“Gewisse Leichen ausm Keller des BMVg nachholen”

“She has to haul certain corpses out of the defense ministry’s cellar” at this stage, said a Leftists party spokesman about Germany’s new defense minister Ursula von der Leyen (C.D.U.). “Including these weapons projects.”

There was an uproar in the Bundestag after the Greens discovered the defense ministry made a 55-million euro payment to MTU in December 2013 without obtaining Bundestag approval or informing defense ministry management. The payment was compensation for a 2011 decision to reduce the German military’s Eurofighter order from 180 to 140 fighter jets. But budget rules require Bundestag approval for every single expenditure >25 million euros. Germany’s new defense minister said she was shocked and, said Spiegel.de, invited all responsible persons in her ministry to a meeting of her predecessor’s so-called Arms Board [Rüstungsboard] on 19 Feb 2014 to discuss the defense department’s biggest procurement projects.

Update on 20 Feb 2014: New defense minister Ursula von der Leyen (C.D.U.) fired Thomas de Maizière’s state secretary Stéphane Beemelmans and her Weapons department head Detlef Selhausen, “both considered key figures in the Euro Hawk drone controversy” said ARD tagesschau.de. She announced plans to fundamentally reform the German military’s entire planning and procurement because costs and schedules for billion-euro projects are not transparent, she said. ARD tagesschau.de said at this stage corruption cannot be ruled out in the defense ministry and in its complex interrelationships with German industry.

Over the next three months, the German military is going to “transilluminate” [durchleuchten] its ~1200 procurement projects, including gathering suggestions for how they can be better accompanied/managed/monitored and controlled/inspected/checked [begleitet und kontrolliert].

Update on 04 Apr 2014: The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that some major defense procurement projects continue despite the new minister’s freeze.

“Although important decisions have been postponed or cast into question for some large arms orders, other major projects are ongoing, such as delivery of the new A400M transport plane (which has a long history of delays and cost overruns) and the new Puma armored tank (in which many initial deficiencies were found).” And, especially, the defense ministry is quietly preparing for a project that will cost billions, called the TLVS, taktisches Luftverteidigungssystem, a new generation of missile defense that will include new missiles, radar equipment, command centers and networking capabilities.

Ten years ago Germany began working with the U.S. and Italy on the new missile defense, called Meads, and has spent about a billion euros on prototypes since then. TLVS project requirements include “360-degree radar and a modular system in which any new components, such as launching platforms or other defense missiles, can be added. The defense batteries should be rapidly transportable by plane to distant theaters.” The defense department is looking at five options for this project, including using Lockheed’s Meads, Raytheon’s Patriots, or combinations of the two. German defense hawks will try to persuade other countries to join in development and deployment, lowering Germany’s costs for both. Vladimir Putin is helping with this by creating interest in missile defense in e.g. Poland and the Netherlands.

(G’VISS ah   LIE chh en   ow! sem   KELLAH   dess   BOON dess min iss TARE ee oom   fir   fair TIED ee goong   NAW chh hole en.)

Betriebsrat und Gesamtbetriebsrat befürworten

Advocating for a factory workers council and a corporation workers council.

Volkswagen’s organizational structure includes the legally-mandatory German committee of workers that is allowed a say in co-managing their workplace: the Betriebsrat. Recently the U.S.’s United Auto Workers union, quietly supported by VW management, tried to “unionize” a factory in Tennessee but was voted down by the workers themselves. U.S. media described it as a vote against union representation, while German media apparently initially reported that the workers had rejected forming a Betriebsrat. They followed up by saying the company had thought unionization was the logical first step for creating a works council at the Chattanooga factory but now they’ll just have to do it another way. “Our employees did not make a decision saying they’re against a Betriebsrat,” plant C.O.O. Frank Fischer reassured German reporters.

Had Chattanooga’s workers voted yes, they would have also gotten a seat on VW’s Gesamtbetriebsrat, apparently a workers’ council for the entire corporation consisting of employees representing VW’s ~105 locations around the world.

Since unionized U.S. auto manufacturing workers were made to seem responsible for the results of inferior car design decisions in the 1970’s, many potential employees appear to not support unions because they fear their own laziness. Fearing your own and others’ laziness seems to be part of the human condition in the U.S. but that fear isn’t as strong in Germany. It’s been interesting to me to see how Germans handle the balance of working hard, <40 hours/week, and then playing hard the rest of the time with a clear conscience, rather than coasting through a twilight lifetime of trying to live at the workplace without sufficient time off.

Süddeutsche.de and Spiegel.de both mentioned that the U.S. has a National Labor Relations Board that must still confirm the plant’s unionization vote and where objections can be filed. U.S. reporting mentioned that U.S. senators are protected under “freedom of opinion” from being sued for spreading disinformation.

(Bet REEBZ rott   oont   gez OMT bet REEBZ rott   beh FIR wort en.)

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