March 6, 2018 / 5:06 PM / 3 months ago

Far-right union wins more seats on Daimler plant's works council

DUESSELDORF (Reuters) - A German trade union accused by rival labor representatives of harboring neo-Nazis has expanded its presence on the works council of a key plant operated by luxury carmaker Daimler (DAIGn.DE), election results showed on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: The Mercedes-Benz logo is seen before the company's annual news conference in Stuttgart, Germany, February 4, 2016. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle/File Photo

The Daimler works council at the Untertuerkheim plant in southern Germany last month accused neo-Nazis of using the Zentrum Automobil union as a base, with the aim of turning the factory into a showcase for their views.

In a vote to elect new representatives for the German carmaker’s works council, which negotiates with management, Zentrum Automobil added two seats to bring its total to six, while the IG Metall union extended its lead to 37 seats out of a total of 47.

German media has reported that several labor representatives at Daimler’s headquarters in Untertuerkheim, which employs about 19,000 staff, were affiliated with neo-Nazi groups and have voiced xenophobic views.

The reports come at a time of heightened concern about the far-right after the rise of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which has surpassed the center-left Social Democrats in a nationwide opinion poll.

Workers founded the Zentrum union in 2009, four years before the AfD was set up. Zentrum Automobil has said it opposes exporting jobs abroad and accused IG Metall of colluding with management to the detriment of workers.

Daimler has said it opposes any far-right activity among its workforce and would monitor developments closely.

The carmaker produced armaments for the Nazis before and during World War Two, making the issue of possible far-right infiltration particularly sensitive for the company.

Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; Writing by Emma Thomasson; Editing by David Goodman

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