Southern German businessman Reinhold Würth doesn't always pay the greatest attention to sensitivity. As of April 1, the billionaire screw dealer has ordered 1,250 of his 5,000 employees in Germany to reduce their working hours and cut their pay by 15 percent. The rest of his workers are being forced to take a solidarity pay cut of five percent. Just last week, Würth complained at a company meeting of his firm's declining turnover.
The inside is equally spiffy -- with a large cabin for the owners, a VIP suite as well as luxury cabins for 14 further guests. At a time of economic crisis, pink slips and bad news, Würth knew he would find little public support for his new plaything. So when the entrepreneur invited guests to the vessel's recent launching party, he asked them to remain discreet about it.
An administrative court in the German city of Heilbronn fined Würth the equivalent of 700 days last May for irregularities in booking corporate costs. At the time of the investigation, Würth had threatened to move the company out of Germany.
The company says it is being forced to reduce working hours as a reaction to "the continuing difficult economic situation. The top aim of these measures is to preserve jobs and know-how at the company."
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