MUNICH -- Workers at Mercedes-Benz's biggest engine plant, worried about their jobs as the automaker shifts to electric technologies, are ratcheting up their fight over the site's expansion.
To protest conditions offered by Mercedes parent Daimler as it negotiates adding new battery-making facilities at its Untertuerkheim plant in Stuttgart, Germany, staff will stop working overtime next month, putting into action a threat they made earlier this month.
Daimler says this will slow engine output, forcing it to cancel shifts for assembling the E-class sedan.
"The changes that will happen over the next eight to fifteen years will directly hit plants like Untertuerkheim," said Wolfgang Nieke, worker representative at the site, which employs 19,000 people. "If we don't lay the groundwork for this shift now, the harder it will be down the line."
Friction is growing between workers who build combustion vehicles -- still the mainstay of most carmakers' profits -- and managers seeking to position their companies for a battery-powered future.
Mercedes, which is investing 10 billion euros ($11.4 billion) as it prepares to roll out 10 electric models, expects as much 25 percent of its sales to come from the new technology by 2025, stoking concerns about job security particularly at engine plants. Electric cars need motors which consist of fewer parts and require fewer workers on the assembly line.
Daimler and labor representatives have been in talks since May on the company's plan to start making batteries and other electric-car components at Untertuerkheim, a 110-year-old site near Daimler's headquarters.
The works council is balking at the manufacturer's proposed commitments on pay and future investments. Worker representatives have significant influence at German companies and are involved in shaping strategy and investments.
Daimler countered that the site will have to compete with battery makers around the world, indicating that it may choose to invest elsewhere if the terms aren't right.
"We are living in a time of disruption," Daimler's head of powertrain Frank Diess, who also runs the plant, said in a statement. "We can only find a long-term solution with a competitive agreement."
Reuters contributed to this report