IG Metall set to refuse GM’s demand to freeze Opel workers’ wages

Article by Anita Panait, on January 24, 2013

German trade union IG Metall will refuse demands by the General Motors’ management to freeze the wages of Opel’s workers in Germany as long as the unit incurs losses, according to a statement published by the German works council at the company. IG Metall claims that the wage freeze would enable Opel to not fulfill the industry-wide wage hike in Germany on a sustained basis.

IG Metall added in the statement that the wage freeze would effectively make Opel no longer a part of the industry-wide wage structure. GM is intensifying cost-reduction pressure on Opel and has threatened to shut down a German plant two years earlier than planned.

Media outlets obtained a letter of GM Vice Chairman Stephen Girsky to Opel employees, saying that the US carmaker is willing to provide financial support to its loss-making European unit if its German operations are set up competitively and profitably.

Girsky added in the letter that Opel unions must agree to "further considerable" cost cuts, since the situation of the European car market is still ''catastrophic" and is unlikely to recover quickly. GM’s Vice Chairman said they may be forced to stop vehicle production at Opel’s Bochum plant in Germany by the end of 2014 instead of 2016, if unions do not agree to concessions.

Gisky noted in the letter that the current labor agreement only protects the Bochum plant from being shut down until Jan. 1, 2015. In response, IG Metall called the comments ''unacceptable.''

A spokeswoman for Opel disclosed that there were no decisions yet, adding that talks with the carmaker’s works council are still ongoing. Discussions between GM executives and unions over the future of Opel's German plants in Bochum, Eisenach, Kaiserslautern and the Ruesselsheim-based headquarters commenced in June 2012 and are still ongoing.

Topics: gm, opel

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