There are signs that General Motors and German labor leaders are making some progress in their negotiations over restructuring Opel/Vauxhall. It seems that GM is preparing to invest in its European arm. Armin Schild, the head of union IG Metall at the region where Opel is based in, said that the union thinks that there’s a “learning process at GM.”
A meeting set for this Thursday will be attended by Opel's supervisory board and several labor representatives to talk about the management's mid-term business plan that is expected to revive the unit. Schild said that this business plan has to reflect the goal to widen the market share in Europe in the long term.
He added that the union is aware of its difficulty, considering the likelihood that the western European car market will shrink in the future, according to Autonews. GM and German labor leaders like Schild are in separate restructuring talks that may lead to the discontinuation of production at Opel's Bochum plant in 2017. This is in exchange of scrapping any compulsory layoffs in Germany for the period that lasts until the end of 2016.
Schild also said that he believes it likely that there would be a form of socially-acceptable staff cuts through measures such as severance packages or normal attrition.
The union wants the Bochum plant to continue operations but Schild said that it’s not yet clear what will happen to this plant, which produces the Zafira minivan. He said that GM is working to reduce costs and lessen idle output capacity in Europe but at the same time, unions are pushing it to invest more in new models and technology to fight a drop in market share.