Opel/Vauxhall plans to reduce the working hours at two of its four plants in Germany in response to a dive in demand for vehicles in Europe. The European unit of General Motors announced Thursday that it would stop production for 20 days at its main factory in Ruesselsheim and its engine plant in Kaiserslautern between September and the end of the year. Holger Kimmes, head of personnel at Opel/Vauxhall, remarked that until recently, the decreased production schedules could be offset by implementing corridor shifts and accrued overtime. Kimmes admitted that short work is the right bridging measure. Opel/Vauxhall disclosed that for manufacturing operations, hours will be cut by short-work shifts or short-work days starting in September while for administrative and service functions, the hour reduction will be implemented in October. The carmaker said that engineering jobs would not be affected by the working hour reduction.
The Ruesselsheim site is Opel's biggest production hub, building the Astra compact and Insignia mid-sized models. Aside from Ruesselsheim and Kaiserslautern, Opel also has production plants in Bochum and Eisenach. GM’s European operations posted $747 million in losses in 2011, as the current economic crisis in the continent continues to affect car sales.
Carmakers having operations in the continent are forced to tackle high fixed costs and excess production capacity, which according to GM, equates to 10 plants. The work-hour reduction plan will affect around half of Opel’s 13,800 employees in Ruesselsheim, according to the company. Opel’s Kaiserslautern factory employs around 2,500 people. Opel workers affected by the cuts will be entitled to subsidies under the German government's short-work program, named Kurzarbeit.