Opel’s labor leaders gave a warning to parent company General Motors Co. that shutting down one of its oldest factories in Germany would not just ruin the automaker’s image but would also be extremely expensive. At a news conference last Saturday after a staff town hall meeting in the western German city of Bochum, Rainer Einenkel, head of the Bochum plant's works council said that GM would lose billions if it does this.
GM had been making changes at struggling Opel to reduce costs by moving production from high-wage countries in western Europe to growing markets. Einenkel said that GM might be forced to shoulder massive costs for severance pay and legal proceedings.
Einenkel, who is also a member of the company’s supervisory board, said that Opel’s brand would take a severe beating if it closed Bochum, a plant in the Ruhr industrial heartland that has been manufacturing cars for half a century. A meeting of the 20-member board took place last Wednesday to talk about ways for Opel to become profitable.
However, it adjourned deliberations without coming to a deal on the restructuring steps. Opel’s factory in Bochum emerged as a symbol of the post-war financial recovery of Germany after it began its production of the Opel Kadett coupe, which rivals the Volkswagen Beetle, in an area hurt by the closure of coal mines.
This plant, which has 3,100 workers making the Zafira and Astra models, has a capacity to make 160,000 vehicles annually. Einenkel said that even if GM had promised not to shut down plants before 2014 ends, the demands of GM were focused on closing between two and three factories. He said that no factory is safe from this plan. [source: Autonews]