Press Release, 24 September 2014

Coalition fears lowering of plant safety and job losses

BAYER is selling plastics division MaterialScience / Highly dangerous production facilities affected

The Coalition against BAYER Dangers (CBG) fears that the sale of Bayer MaterialScience will lead to negative consequences for the employees as well as a lowering of plant safety. CBG board member Jan Pehrke said: “Bayer's management is putting the wellbeing of workers below the demands of the financial markets. The great sacrifices of the workers in recent years have been for nothing. We are afraid that in the long run jobs will be destroyed and wages will be lowered – as was the case with many other divestments.”

CBG board member Philipp Mimkes fears the implications for plant safety: “The future owners will be tempted to reduce costs for maintenance, labour and fire service even further. This will automatically lead to a higher risk of incidents. Since Bayer MaterialScience operates some of the most dangerous industrial plants altogether - after nuclear power plants -, this is of utmost importance for the general public. Plant safety must not be compromised by the sale.” Bayer MaterialScience has production sites in Germany, Belgium, Spain, Brazil, the USA, China and Thailand.

MaterialScience operates extremely dangerous facilities, for example for polyurethane production where large amounts of toxic substances such as chlorine, ammonia, carbon monoxide as well as the former war gas Phosgene are employed. Another plastic that has been subject to criticism for decades is the endocrine disrupter Bisphenol A, which is used in food packaging, drinking bottles, shop receipts and dental fillings, despite warnings by toxicologists.

Time and again in the last few years financial investors demanded that Bayer sell the plastics division. Until recently the company withstood the pressure. Only in July CEO Marijn Dekkers emphasized: “It is best to continue on the chosen path.”

In order to retain the plastics division in the corporation, Bayer demanded numerous concessions from its employees in recent years. Bayer destroyed more than 2,000 jobs at MaterialScience, closed production facilities, started efficiency programmes and cut bonus payments. According to the view of CBG it is conceivable that the division will be further broken up and sold in parts. In case of a major incident this would have implications for residents and workers, since the liability of smaller companies will be more limited.