( dpa ) - A German government minister said Friday he was joining a boycott of Nokia mobile phones because the Finnish manufacturer is closing Germany's last surviving wireless handset factory.
Horst Seehofer, the German agriculture minister, told reporters in Berlin that he was changing to another brand of mobile phone "because I don't like the way they are doing this."
A trade union leader in North Rhine-Westphalia state, Dietmar Muscheid, had said the previous day that German shoppers should consider the "disastrous effects of this company's behaviour on thousands of employees."
Thomas Steg, a spokesman for German leader Angela Merkel, said, "Chancellor Merkel believes Nokia's way of doing things raises a host of questions." He said she could understand why some wanted to boycott the company.
The plant at Bochum, western Germany employs 2,300 people. Most of the manufacturing operation is to move to low-pay Cluj, Romania. A newspaper, Rheinische Post, said the Cluj production line had already made a test run.
The Social Democratic whip in the federal parliament, Peter Struck, told the newspaper Bild he would give up his Nokia phone too.
Seehofer belongs to the Christian Social Union of Bavaria, an ally of Merkel's CDU.
The other CSU minister in the government, Michael Glos at Economics, said he doubted Nokia would change its mind.
Nokia makes four out of every 10 mobile phones sold worldwide. The factory-gate price of a no-frills phone has fallen to less than 10 euros (14 dollars), industry observers said this week in Hamburg.
Economics Ministry Secretary Hartmut Schauerte said earlier he had arranged a meeting "soon" in Berlin with Nokia senior management to discuss the closure, announced in Helsinki Tuesday.
The newspaper Financial Times Deutschland said the meeting would take place "this week."
A Nokia spokesman said Thursday that the company would not enter into discussions with German authorities about keeping the Bochum plant in operation.
The company has been accused of ingratitude, because it accepted state subsidies in the past. The state of North Rhine Westphalia said it would study if any subsidies could be clawed back.
Nokia spokeswoman Kristina Bohlmann said the company wanted to begin negotiations with labour leaders on how to compensate those who would lose their jobs.