Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser told a German newspaper the company will not reduce its workforce despite the economic downturn due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Kaeser, in an interview published April 11, said the company would likely continue having some employees work fewer hours at some of its facilities in Germany, and could extend that order to more workers.

Kaeser told Passauer Neue Presse that “no one at Siemens will leave because of a temporary fluctuation in activity.” He said the German-based company is continuing to adapt to changes in the energy landscape, including reductions in the use of coal and natural gas for power generation and an increase in the use of renewable energy resources such as solar and wind. But he said those are structural changes not tied to the coronavirus.

Siemens has evolved from a manufacturing and engineering company and has operations in many areas outside of the power sector. The company maintains its headquarters in Munich, Germany, but its largest market is the U.S. The company’s American subsidiary, Siemens USA, has a workforce of about 50,000, according to the company.

The company last week announced “first fire” of the world’s first SGT6-9000HL gas turbine at a Duke Energy facility in North Carolina.

Pandemic Response

Utilities and manufacturing companies have had various responses to the pandemic. Most have allowed as many workers as possible to work remotely; others have sequestered workers on-site to perform essential operations. Energy companies have been at the forefront of providing community support during the pandemic.

Siemens has a global and U.S.-specific task force to continuously monitor the impact of COVID-19. The company’s health care unit is providing equipment for patient testing and care, in addition to deploying virtual training and remote management of imaging systems. The company’s Siemens Healthineers unit on April 2 announced the availability of its molecular Fast Track Diagnostics (FTD) SARS-CoV-2 Assay test kit, which is used to aid in the diagnosis of infection by the virus that causes COVID-19.

Kaeser three weeks ago said operations at the company’s factories in China had mostly returned to normal operation. China was the original hotspot for the coronavirus. Kaeser acknowledged that the company expects an impact from the coronavirus epidemic on its second-quarter figures.

Siemens generates about 10% of its sales in China. Kaeser on March 20 said the company’s factories there were running at 95% of their pre-outbreak levels.

Kaesar in the interview published Saturday said about 1,600 of Siemens’ 120,000 workers in Germany were on “short-time work. But I can’t rule out that there will be more,” he said.

“But in a temporary crisis, there’s no question: we will get through it together. And when the crisis is over, and things are picking up again, we’ll tackle it together,” Kaeser said.

Darrell Proctor is associate editor for POWER (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine).