A day of action at the Siempelkamp Giesserei facility brought together foundry employees and representatives from the Krefeld branch of the German metalworkers’ union IG Metall. Together, they demanded the speedy and straightforward roll-out of an industrial electricity price.
A joint demonstration by the union, foundry workers and foundry management was held to protest against the ongoing political uncertainty around the possible introduction of a temporary electricity price cap for energy-intensive industrial users. Dubbed a “bridge gap price”, this would lay the foundation for the urgently needed transformation efforts Germany is undergoing. Those assembled also directed criticism at the partial removal of the Spitzensteuerausgleich electricity tax relief scheme, which will place an even heavier burden on the industrial sector from next year.
“During the election campaign, the current chancellor, Olaf Scholz, made a clear election promise to introduce an industrial electricity price cap of 4 cents per kilowatt hour. We now expect that this promise will finally be fulfilled after more than 24 months of electricity costs being far too high. An industrial electricity price similar to those in effect in other EU countries will help make electricity prices predictable and competitive again for small and medium-sized companies,” explains Dirk Howe, managing director of Siempelkamp Giesserei. He adds: “We now need competitive electricity prices which promote, not additional tax increases that penalise sustainable economic growth and the manufacture of products that are critically important for the transition to clean energy. We expect the political promises to be kept and to see a clear and responsible correction of the current course the federal government is steering!”
Ralf Claessen, head of IG Metall Krefeld, agrees with him: “Without a temporary electricity price cap model, the lights will soon be out at a large number of energy-intensive companies in Germany. They will either move away or have to admit defeat in view of international competition. This will put thousands of well-trained people’s jobs on the line and breaks up value chains. If policy-makers in Germany and Europe do not take consistent and comprehensive action, this will have a massive impact – on Germany’s entire reputation as an industrial centre, on social peace and on Europe’s ability to meet the demands of the future. Without bridges, no traffic – just as this is true on the road, this also applies to the bridge gap measures needed for our digital and energy transformations.”
The day of action in Krefeld made it clear that IG Metall and Siempelkamp Giesserei do not require the state to provide any lump-sum subsidies or subsidies subject to strict conditions. Instead, they are proposing the industrial electricity price cap as a means to help them do business sustainably. This would involve the state helping companies bear the current extra cost of electricity, then receiving the difference back when electricity prices from renewable energy sources fall. This general contract for difference for the energy-intensive industrial sector would provide planning certainty for all parties involved, which is essential in order for necessary investments to be made. In addition, the state would not have to worry about finding funding for a capped industrial electricity price, which is currently the biggest obstacle in the political discussion about it. This type of action is consistent with the original purpose of Germany’s Economic Stabilisation Fund (WSF). As a result, Siempelkamp Giesserei and IG Metall hope that the government will listen to their concerns. “Policy-makers must not find themselves only listening to the voices of big business – they also have to take the interests of the broad-based Mittelstand sector of small and medium-sized companies into account as the backbone of the German economy,” says Howe.