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Is Germany sinking ASK employees at the Bavarian Motor Works in Munich about manufacturing costs and they become defensive and defiant though still polite Siegmund Engel 35 who puts together 3-series BMWs is typical People say that costs are too high Its truethat other countries are cheaper That is bad news for us But I think our costs here are he pauses appropriate Siegmund says he cannot imagine getting less than the basic pounds 500 a week he now earns His opposite numbers at Rover in Longbridge would no doubt be pleased to trade places Siegmund himself readily admits that BMW in common with the rest of theGerman economy is not run on the cheap According to BMW all but a few per cent of its workers earn more than DM60000 pounds 27000 a year - in Longbridge the average is pounds 16000 The BMW workers enjoy a holiday entitlement which starts at six weeks a year five weeks at Longbridgeand goes up from there Plus there are the standard public holidays which Catholic Bavaria is especially keen on - 12 or 14 a year depending on how you count them Britain has eight Then there is Urlaubsgeld or holiday money - approximately an extra months pay towards the summer break in Majorca or Miami And Weihnachtsgeld or Christmas money - the same again for presents all round Those two bonuses have long beenstandard across Germany In addition BMW workers get a further 15th months salary as part of a profit-sharing scheme On top of that there are generous health insurance and pension payments Bernd Pischetsrieder chairman of BMW reckons overallGerman wage costs to be about twice those in Britain It is scarcely surprising that high manufacturing costs have become the topic of economic debate in Germany today In almost every respect the economy seems to defy the laws of gravity On wages think of a number and
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