With the likelihood that fewer jobs will be lost, the union leaders in Belgium are opening up to a plan by General Motors Co. to grant a stay of execution to its Opel plant in Antwerp.
Last January, GM announced that Opel Antwerp would shut down at the end of June. This led to unions announcing the suspension of talks over GM's bid to secure 265 million euros ($358 million) in annual wage cuts over the next five years.
Last Monday, GM said that it was now suggesting that the Opel Antwerp plant be allowed to look for an investor until the end of September.
Union leaders say that the investor is required to take over by the end of the year. They also said that GM is considering cutting 1,200 of the 2,600 Opel Antwerp workforce.
Rudi Kennes, Opel's European deputy labor leader, viewed these developments as a sign of progress. However, the plant needed more than six months to get an investor and these job cuts exceed the 1,000 maximum unions were prepared to accept.
Kennes said that if Opel Chief Executive Nick Reilly is moving in the right direction then there could be a common solution. Reilly had upset labor leaders when he attempted to pursue a plan that would cut capacity by a fifth and dispose of 8,300 jobs in Europe. [via autonews - sub. required]