General Motors Co. has reached an agreement with labor leaders to guarantee the jobs of over 20,000 German workers at its Opel unit in exchange for the shutdown of its Bochum site and a freeze in wages. Unions agreed to let GM close down its Bochum site by the end of 2016. The site employs around 3,300 people and builds the Zafira minivan.
Wage increases, which were put on hold in November 2012 as part of the negotiation process, will be postponed through 2015. In return, GM will refrain from large-scale job cuts until 2016, instead of the initial target year of 2014.
When GM halts vehicle production at the Bochum site by end of 2016, GM will keep part of the plant as a components and logistics center, and will continue to employ 1,200 people at the location.
Stephen Girsky, head of Opel's supervisory board and acting head of GM Europe, said in the statement that GM fully supports Opel and is securing the necessary funding for the next few years until the German carmaker returns to profitability.
GM Europe, which includes Opel and Vauxhall, has posted $18 billion in losses since 1999, including $1.8 billion in losses in 2012. On Feb. 14, 2013, GM reiterated targets for its European division to improve earnings in 2013, boosted by new models like the Mokka and Adam.
GM also reiterated targets for GM Europe to achieve breakeven by 2015. Girsky pushed for a labor deal in February before Karl-Thomas Neumann takes over as Opel’s new chief in March. Girsky will also transfer responsibility at GM Europe to Neumann.