• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

General Motors vows no plant closures at Opel

The Local · 3 Aug 2012, 08:49

Published: 03 Aug 2012 08:49 GMT+02:00

"Opel management and German unions are continuing to discuss a broad range of issues that will help ensure the sustainability of the business, including productivity, cost and capacity," GM chief executive Dan Akerson said.

"We expect to have a comprehensive agreement in place sometime this fall."

GM's efforts to address overcapacity in Europe raised concerns about possible European plant closures, especially after a spokesman said one or more factories could be on the block. He later retracted the statement.

"We are negotiating the issue of capacity with IG Metall," GM spokesman James Cain said referring to the German industrial union of metalworkers.

"Those discussions include the future (of the) Bochum facility after the current product cycle."

He added that GM has "reiterated that it was honouring its contracts in place."

The IG Metall union said it would not discuss plant closures.

"IG Metall is not ready to engage in such negotiations," said Rainer Einenkel, head of the works council at Opel's Bochum plant and a member of Opel's supervisory board.

"We will do everything we can to make sure that no other European plant closes," whether that's in Spain, England or Poland, he added.

GM, which posted Thursday a $400 million loss in Europe in the second quarter following a $256 million loss in the prior quarter, has spoken for some time about the need to reduce excess capacity at its European subsidiary Opel-Vauxhall.

"In the past, we haven't moved fast enough to fix the things that we can control, but that has changed," Akerson said in a conference call discussing the largest US automaker's second-quarter results.

In late June, Opel's supervisory board approved a plan that involved deep restructuring, huge investment in the product range of the Opel and Vauxhall brands, and a new marketing strategy.

Akerson said the company has made progress on the key components of the European restructuring plan – "building a stronger team, investing in new products and addressing our cost and capacity."

GM has also reached "competitive operating agreements" with unions in England and Poland and "made good progress streamlining decision-making, reducing our material cost and managing our working capital and cash flow," Akerson noted.

Other automakers also need to address European overcapacity in order to return the industry to profitability and eliminate steep discounts being offered to help shift excess vehicles, chief financial officer Dan Ammann said.

"If you look across the industry, third parties have speculated there's somewhere between five and seven or eight assembly plants that would need to come out of the industry in the long term if it were to stay at these types of levels," he said in a conference call.

"Across the industry in Europe we're starting to see some of the required actions begin to occur which we haven't seen until now."

France's PSA Peugeot announced plans last month to eliminate 8,000 jobs and close its historic Aulnay plant north of Paris.

Fiat has temporarily suspended production at one of its Italian plants and recently warned that it may close a different factory permanently if sales did not improve.

Story continues below…

GM's restructuring will not only affect blue-collar workers.

"In recent weeks, you have seen that we would not hesitate to act when change is required to make the business stronger," Akerson said.

That includes removing senior executives who "are not delivering expected results or alternatively who do not meet the highest standards for accountability and integrity," he added.

On Sunday, GM announced the immediate departure of the head of its US marketing, just weeks after the exit of its US design chief.

Opel chief Karl-Friedrich Stracke quit abruptly last month after just 15 months in the job. His interim replacement is Opel's fourth new chief within a period of just three years.

AFP/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

19:18 August 3, 2012 by Beachrider
GM is trying to rebuild its proud company. Remember that Opel has been part of GM since 1928.
07:36 November 21, 2012 by honeybeee
This case is quite similar with their two german car-parts supplier counterparts Schaeffler and Conti, although Schaeffler overtaking conti¦#39;s case is pending and schaeffler even sold parts of conti¦#39;s shares ,schaeffler is still conti¦#39;s biggest shareholder so far till now. Schaeffler all helps conti during their most hard 3 before years though their own cash flow is very tight too in their recent financial report , Nowadays that¦#39;s the same hard economical situation both for the german car manufacturers as well as car-parts suppliers,but watching them as a whole german car industry , they all believe and have faith that they can overcome all difficulties and expect new booming sooner or later .
Today's headlines
Ansbach suicide attack
Isis says Syrian bomber in Bavaria one of its 'soldiers'
Photo: DPA

The Syrian asylum seeker who blew himself up outside a music festival in Germany was a "soldier" of the Isis, the jihadist-linked Amaq news agency said on Monday.

Merkel's refugee policy was 'reckless': Left Party leader
Photo: DPA

The attacks carried out by refugees over the past week show accepting large numbers of refugees brings "significant problems", the party's chairwoman said on Monday.

Ansbach suicide attack
What we know about the Ansbach suicide bomber
The attacker's rucksack. Photo: DPA

He had had his asylum application rejected and had twice attempted suicide, say authorities.

Ansbach suicide attack
Ansbach suicide bomber confirms Isis loyalty in video
Police remove evidence from the bombers residence. Photo: DPA

The man who blew himself up in Ansbach, Bavaria, on Sunday evening, injuring 15 people, recorded a video in which he pledged his allegiance to terror group Isis.

Top 10 German firms with the highest-paid employees
Photo: DPA

Want to know which companies shell out the most for salaries?

How will Germany change after string of bloody attacks?
A policeman in Ansbach on Sunday evening. Photo: DPA

Within seven days Germany has been hit by four bloody attacks on innocent people on its streets and in a train. What does this unprecedented string of murders mean for the country?

After attacks, minister rejects blanket suspicion of refugees
Thomas de Maiziere. Photo: DPA

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere on Monday cautioned Germans against indiscriminately branding all refugees a security threat after a rash of attacks over the last week.

What we know about the Reutlingen knife attack
Police arrest the attacker. Photo: DPA

... and what we don't.

Munich shooting
Police arrest possible accomplice of Munich gunman
Mourners in Munich. Photo: DPA

Authorities in Munich believe that a friend of the teenager who murdered nine people at a Munich shopping centre may have known about his plans.

Ansbach suicide attack
Suicide bomber attacks bar in Bavaria
Photo: DPA

A Syrian migrant set off an explosion at a bar in southern Germany that killed himself and wounded a dozen others late Sunday, authorities said, the third attack to hit Bavaria in a week.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
DPA
Gallery
IN PICTURES: How Munich responded to shooting spree
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
10,700
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd