Opel will shut down its Bochum plant in Germany earlier than planned after the site’s employees rejected a deal that would have resulted to saving over a third of the factory’s jobs. According to Opel, production of the Zafira Tourer minivan – the only model built by the Bochum plant – will be terminated by the end of 2014.
General Motors Co.'s European unit reached an agreement with national union leaders in February 2013 to continue production at the Bochum plant until 2016, and have part of the site remain open to serve as a parts and logistics center. Such a move would have saved around 1,200 of the site’s more than 3,000 jobs.
According to the IG Metall union, a vote on the offer resulted to 76% of employees rejecting it, a turnout of almost 70%. Knut Giesler, the regional head of IG Metall, remarked that he sees the results as a clear no-confidence vote for the management of Opel. He quipped, “too many mistakes, too many false promises for eight years."
Manfred Gellrich, chief of the Bochum site, said in a statement that a “huge opportunity” was missed. He said that they regret the site’s employees did not accept the offer, which he described as “attractive.” GM is planning to shut down Opel’s site as part of its overhaul to reduce excess capacity and turn around its loss-making European operations to profit.
GM Europe, which includes Opel and UK-based sister brand Vauxhall, has posted $18 billion in losses since 1999, including $1.8 billion in 2012. GM aims to achieve a breakeven in Europe by mid-decade by implementing cost-cutting measures and increasing revenue with 23 new or refreshed Opel products by 2016.