The first Mercedes made in France. In May 2018, this attractive and resounding announcement had reached the Elysee Palace where Dieter Zetsche, the CEO of the German firm, had detailed Emmanuel Macron’s investment plan of 500 million euros on the Hambach site. (Moselle). An electric SUV with the Mercedes logo would see the light of day on French soil, which had never happened in the history of the manufacturer.
Two years later, the new production lines are almost ready, but on Friday, to everyone’s surprise, the group announced its intention to separate from the Moselle site, which currently employs 1,500 people. Smartville did not see the blast happen. Twenty-four hours later, the city is still in shock. Under a radiant sun, at the children’s play area, Sophie, who lives in Hambach after having followed her spouse, who was hired as an operator technician seven years ago at the factory, says that she is resigned. “Here, we still have a quality of life, we have school in the town. If this factory closes because no one takes it over, we will lose everything. “
In 2015, employees agreed to work paid 39 hours 37
Patrick Hoszkowicz, he is still stunned. This CFDT delegate took “a punch in the face.” Mercedes sacrifices us because the evil is in Germany where health is bad. Even at the Elysée, it seems that they have fallen from the chair. The crisis has a good back, ”he continues. Convened Thursday evening for the next morning, union organizations were taken aback.
“In 2015, we signed a referendum pact to work 39 hours paid 37. It was to secure our jobs. And when Daimler announced its investment of 500 million, we thought that our efforts had paid off, ”says Dominique, seated on the terrace at a cafe in Sarreguemines, the neighboring city. This fifties expresses a feeling of “waste”. Placed on partial unemployment during the health crisis, he resumed his position as a rather “confident” operator at the beginning of June, he who entered the factory when it opened in 1997. “We know that car manufacturers are in difficulty in this moment, but I never would have thought of that. “
Smart relocated to China and replaced by Mercedes SUV
Misunderstanding also reigns among local elected officials, worried by the fate of the site, the current largest employer in East Moselle. The presidents of the region, the department and the agglomeration community have requested an appointment with the management board. “It is regrettable that this decision is taken without any consultation and any discussion” wrote in a joint statement the elected officials. In Smartville, there had already been a massive blow in March 2019, when Daimler, owner of the Mercedes-Benz and Smart brands, had announced the end of production of the small city car in France and its relocation to China from 2022 .
But the territory had been reassured by the prospect of an even more prestigious showcase with this Mercedes SUV. Industrial transformation had started in stride, representing the largest investment since the factory’s creation. 70,000 m2 of buildings have emerged from the ground, backed by Hambach Europôle. A colossal project including the creation of shoeing and painting workshops. To date, the work is almost complete. The macadam is recent and on the edge of these new accesses, yellow construction site signs used to direct the vehicles.
300 state-of-the-art robots
“Mercedes will go all the way to make the bride more beautiful. And I think that we will respect the calendar which planned to launch the prototypes in September in order to verify the shoeing process. But we will not go any further, ”laments Mario Mutzette, CFE-CGC delegate. “Whoever takes over the site will take over a brand new factory. There are around 300 robots from the latest technologies. If there is no buyer in 2022, it would be the worst scenario. If there is one, will he be able to take back everyone and under what conditions? Asks the unionist.
An extraordinary social economic committee (ESC) is to be held on Thursday.