Workers at Opel/Vauxhall’s UK, German plants fear closure as board meets

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 28, 2012

On Wednesday, Opel/Vauxhall's board met while under pressure from parent General Motors Co. to end losses. Meanwhile, thousands of employees in the UK and Germany facilities fear that their operations may come to an end. Opel and its unions are still in talks regarding ways to reduce expenses.

However, the discussions could be totally ceased if the supervisory board members vote in favor of concrete steps to shut down the factories. Although Opel has stated that the plants will remain until the end of 2014, its Bochum factory in western Germany and Ellesmere Port unit in northwestern England will be marked for closure. The works council at the Bochum factory related in a statement on Tuesday that the employees there were asking themselves regarding what will happen after 2014.

It has also been disclosed that the option to close plants has not been removed from the negotiation table. The Bochum facility has around 3,100 employees.

However, the works council calculates that the closure would cost 45,000 jobs when related suppliers and service companies are included. The labor leaders comprise half of Opel's 20-member board. They intend to vote against any mid-term business plan that expects the immediate closure of a plant.

Ellesemere Port has around 2,100 employees and 700 contractors. Europe's economic weakness has affected vehicle sales, forcing vehicle manufacturers to deal with ballooning fixed costs and surplus capacity which GM CEO Dan Akerson calculated at 10 facilities in the region.

Since the economic crisis hit in 2008, the only automobile factory in Europe that have closed are Fiat's Sicily factory, Saab's Trollhattan plant in Sweden and Opel's Antwerp plant in Belgium. Mitsubishi is stopping vehicle production in its Netherlands facility by the end of the year. There are still around 240 plants in 27 European countries. Between 2008 and 2012, Ford Motor Co., Chrysler and GM have shut down 13 plants in the United States.

Topics: opel, vauxhall

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