Bundesbank staff battle cuts

STAFF of Germany&rsquo;s Bundesbank yesterday gathered in protest at the central bank&rsquo;s plan to close local offices and slash jobs.<br /><br />Around 1,500 staff assembled outside the Bundesbank headquarters in Frankfurt to demonstrate against plans to close 14 of 47 regional offices by 2012, with another nine to go by 2015. The initial round of closures would see 300 jobs cut and a further 500 relocated. <br /><br />The protesters waved placards bearing the slogan &ldquo;Unnecessary branch closures mean our death&rdquo; and carried cardboard coffins, in action co-ordinated by the central bank employees&rsquo; union VdB and fellow union Verdi.<br /><br />&ldquo;This is a historic first, as for the very first time Bundesbank employees go into the streets to voice their protest,&rdquo; said VdB union head Bernd Kurczyk.<br /><br />The Bundesbank has been shrinking its operations since the introduction of the euro &ndash; handing over many of its responsibilities to the European Central Bank &ndash; and has been axing staff ever since. In 2002, the central bank had a headcount of more than 14,300 but it now employs 10,000, with 1,000 more set to go by 2012.<br /><br />But the reduction in staffing levels appears to be at odds with plans by Germany&rsquo;s new ruling coalition to absorb financial regulator BaFin into the Bundesbank and give it sole responsibility for oversight of banks.<br /><br />And the row comes at a difficult time for the Bundesbank, as it reels from derogatory comments made by board member Thilo Sarrazin about the country&rsquo;s large Turkish and Arab communities recently.<br /><br />Sarrazin was yesterday stripped of his responsibility for cash circulation after saying that German Muslims contributed little to the economy.