Siemens sacks 15,000 staff -

More than 15,000 employees at Europe's biggest engineering firm, Siemens, will have to pick up their pink slips and p45s.

The company says it wants to carry out the $8.1 billion cost cutting programme designed by chief executive Peter Loescher. Ironically, Loescher, who designed the plan, was the first to go.

Siemens kicked him out two months ago and many hoped his cunning plan would have gone with him, but apparently not. According to Bloomberg, the plan is being pushed through by the new broom, CEO Joe Kaeser.

The company, which produces items from hearing aids to gas turbines, wants to close the gap with rivals such as General Electric and ABB.

Siemens and its unions have reached an agreement over about half of the job cuts and is still trying to sort out a deal on the other half.

The announcement came because Siemens wanted to end speculation in the market about the number of jobs that are about to be cut, a company spokesperson said.

No workers have been laid off so far and Siemens has said it does not intend to make enforced redundancies, relying instead on attrition and voluntary severance deals.

In Germany, roughly 2,000 jobs will be cut at the company's industrial unit and another 1,400 at its energy and infrastructure business, the spokesperson said.

Although 15,000 is a lot, it's a small percentage of the company's 370,000 workers. 370,000 is the same number of staff it had last year.