Opel’s workers at an auto plant in Spain agreed to a two-year salary freeze as part of a labor deal that seeks to make it more competitive against plants in Europe. GM’s spokeswoman Pilar Guridi said that its 6,000-strong workforce at the facility near Zaragoza will not be given wage increases in 2013 and 2014 as part of a five- year collective bargaining agreement.
In a statement last Tuesday, Opel said that this agreement is expected to help the plant become a part of the automaker’s investment plans and allotment of new models. Since 1999, $18 billion in accumulated losses were posted by GM's European operations, which consist mainly of Opel and its British sister brand Vauxhall.
GM, which aims to save costs by shutting down a plant in Bochum, Germany, hopes to break even in Europe by 2015. Guridi said that the salaries at the Spanish factory, which produces the Corsa subcompact and Meriva minivan, may increase by up to 1.5% beginning in 2015 and will be reviewed in 2016 and 2017 based on potential profit at GM in Europe. She said that nearly 65% of workers voted for the agreement.
Around 67% of the factory’s staff took part in the ballot. Automakers such as Ford Motor Co., Renault and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen are increasing their output in Spain as labor expenses have fallen.
The legislation approved by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy makes it easier for companies to reduce wages and reorganize staff members. Furthermore, the government is giving incentives to drivers who are eager to part with their old vehicles after auto sales in the country declined by 13% in 2012.