Employees of Akzo Nobel in Germany have rallied round to help their colleagues in the town of Bitterfeld, who were seriously affected by the devastating floods which hit the country recently.
The company’s Functional Chemicals site, which employs 85 people, was shut down for four days as a precaution amid a mass evacuation of the town, when most of its 16,000 residents had to leave their homes after the rain-swollen River Mulde burst its banks.
Although none of the Bitterfeld employees had their homes destroyed, a number of them lost a significant amount of furniture, appliances and belongings as a result of water damage.
“The central works council of Akzo Nobel Chemicals in Germany began the initiative for collecting money but a lot of individuals also decided to start their own collections,” explained Dr Heiko Mammen, who is site manager at Bitterfeld.
“We also acted immediately and with the backing of the Board of Management we gave all our workers who were worst affected EUR 2,000 each to help them cope with the situation.”
As an extra show of solidarity and support, Akzo Nobel Chemicals GmbH has also stated that it will double the amount raised by the collections among the company’s Chemicals employees.
But help for Bitterfeld—which is a major center for chemical production—has not only come in the shape of financial aid. A group of workers from Akzo Nobel’s Intervet site at Schwabenheim in Germany is traveling over with furniture, fridges, washing machines and clothes in an effort to help their colleagues get back on their feet.
“We have had many telephone calls from people offering us help and support,” added Mammen. “Things are starting to get back to normal now and the plant, which was never under threat from the flood waters, is fully operational again. But some workers have still not been able to return to their homes.”
Although the worst is over, around one third of Bitterfeld is still in a state of evacuation. The clean-up operation is now in full swing, but the water levels in a flooded former brown coal pit still remain perilously high.
The good news is that the town—which will take months to recover from the disaster—has been promised millions of euros by the German government to help fixed ruined roads, bridges and buildings.