Continental is among the top five automotive suppliers in the world, with global sales of over €30 billion. Founded and headquartered in Germany, it manufactures a range of electronic systems and components, as well as tires. Worldwide, the company employs approximately 164,000 employees across 269 locations in 46 countries.
Continental’s plant in Amata City, Thailand, opened in June 2009 and achieved full capacity production in the first half of 2011. IFC provided €70 million of financing, including mobilization from others during a time when European banks were pulling back. Part of the company’s powertrain division, the Amata City plant is the company’s international base for the manufacture of diesel injection systems using cutting-edge technology. Most production supplies the domestic automotive manufacturing industry in Thailand, but a significant proportion is exported to India, China and Europe.
The global automotive supply industry is intensely competitive, characterized by rapid technological change, high capital expenditure and ongoing cost pressures. Retaining workers in the face of an increasingly tight labor market at all skill levels is one of the biggest challenges that the plant faces, according to plant managers.
The plant is steadily ramping up employment with a target of about 800 jobs by 2016. Around 41 percent of the workforce is female. Though most women work as operators on the assembly line, women account for 20 percent of the company’s skilled engineers. Continental provides attractive benefits for all workers, but women, who earn much less than men on average in Thailand and are often migrants sending money home to families, particularly appreciate the compensation package. These benefits include a generous accommodation allowance, overtime hours, monthly productivity bonuses, annual company bonuses and free meals in the staff canteen. The company provides medical insurance to workers and their family members and makes co-contributions with workers to a provident fund, which becomes accessible to workers when they retire or leave the plant. Continental also provides all workers with safe transport to and from work, with 16 separate routes across the surrounding area, and makes sure that pick-up points have safe, well-lit waiting areas.
In return for attractive working conditions, Continental retains more employees, keeping down costs of training and lost productivity.