German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has criticised a leading industry representative who urged companies not to wait for better government policies, but to act now and seize opportunities available in the low labour-cost Eastern Europe countries soon to join the European Union.
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At a meeting with advisors, the chancellor referred to the remarks made by Ludwig Georg Braun, president of the German Federation of Chambers of Commerce, as "unpatriotic", said government spokesman Bela Anda.
Braun attacked the German government for having "too little understanding of business". He said the government needed to support policies that encouraged people to consume more and industry to invest more. Neither is possible, he added, "when laws and regulations are constantly changed."
The clash between Schröder and Braun comes as Siemens, Germany's largest high-tech company, considers moving jobs to Eastern Europe and India, according to the German labour union IG Metall.
The company, which employs 170,000 people in Germany out of a worldwide labour force of 417,000, is holding talks with labour officials to discuss its employment plans for Germany.
Although chief executive officer Heinrich von Pierer has threatened to pull out of the national employers' union and not participate in wage negotiations if the labour unions and the government do not show greater flexibility in labour market reforms, the goal was to keep as many jobs in Germany as possible.
John Blau writes for IDG News Service