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Opel puts cuts shifts to part-time
Photo: DPA

Opel puts cuts shifts to part-time

Published: 23 Aug 2012 12:19 GMT+02:00
Updated: 23 Aug 2012 14:51 GMT+02:00

German carmaker Opel, a loss-making unit of US giant General Motors, said Thursday it will reduce working hours at two key plants as demand in the European car market slumps.

"In consultation with the works council and the IG Metall labour union, Adam Opel AG will introduce short-time work at its plants in Rüsselsheim and Kaiserslautern from September," Opel said in a statement, adding that 20 working days would be cut between then and the end of the year.

"The European car market is dropping dramatically," the carmaker complained.

"Falling capacity utilisation can no longer be compensated with measures such as flexitime. Short-time work is now the right way to bridge this weakness in the market," said Opel's personnel chief Holger Kimmes.

Under short-time work schemes, employees see their working hours reduced for a limited period, but the state, in the form of the Federal Labour Agency, partially makes up for the corresponding shortfall in pay.

The head of the general works council, Wolfgang Schäfer-Klug, said the measure would "secure jobs" and help limit financial hardship for the employees concerned.

The measure would be introduced both in the production operations, as well as in administration.

Opel has a total four production sites in Germany: alongside Rüsselsheim - which is the main site as well as the group's headquarters - and Kaiserslautern, it also has plants in Bochum and Eisenach.

Rüsselsheim employs a workforce of 13,800, with 3,500 in production, 3,300 in administration and a further 7,000 in engineering, with "around half" of the employees there to be affected, Opel said.

The Kaiserslautern plant employs a workforce of 2,500.

GM sustained a loss of $400 million from its European operations in the second quarter of this year, as the unit battles with the eurozone sovereign debt crisis and massive overcapacity issues.

At the end of June, Opel's supervisory board approved deep restructuring, massive investment in the product range of the Opel and Vauxhall brands, and a new marketing strategy.

AFP/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:53 August 23, 2012 by smart2012
it was a great decision from Germany not to sell Opel to Fiat.. Fiat bought Chrisler instead, which is now booming. Another example of short sighted view, and of the great European spirit.
22:39 August 23, 2012 by pelliot
Quick to blame Germany there smart2012. GM owns Opel, not the German government. GM simply does not understand the European auto market and frankly would have been forced to sell Opel had the US government not given them a massive cash infusion. Opel has been in trouble for many years and both the US government (via GM) and the German government have been keeping the afloat. Cutting their capacity and workforce by 30% is the only thing that can make them a viable company again. They make a good product, go drive one if you disagree. You were clearly uninformed on this topic... Now you can consIder yourself informed.
23:49 August 23, 2012 by zeddriver
That's a rather telling article. 3,500 actually building a product. 3,300 pushing papers around. Sounds like to many generals for the number of soldiers.
06:54 August 24, 2012 by pelliot
@zeddriver: Welcome to a world where cars are built by robots. The ratio of production / admin and engineering staff at Opel would be similar at most other modern automakers.

@agbjr: I agree with almost everything you've said. I haven't forgotten that GM has owned Opel since the 20's and that there have been many decades of success at both GM/Opel. However - as with GM in North America - Opel has also suffered from failed marketing and gross financial mismanagement, to me that demonstrates poor understanding of the market. Has the UAW in the US and IG Metall in Germany helped create this dire situation by pushing up wages -- absolutely, but the buck stops with management at GM/Opel and they are failing to keep the company profitable.
10:08 August 24, 2012 by M Australian
Opel (Holden) is to Australia what VW is to Germany.

Unfortunately Opel has an image & perception problem in Germany / Europe. We had this conversation over dinner last night and none of the 15 Europeans out of the 20 strong dinner party would have Opel on their list if shopping for a new car.
12:27 August 25, 2012 by smart2012
@pelliot. Marchionne had to meet Merkel to discuss the Opel acquisition. Why??? Cause Germany owns golden shares of Opel. Please, do not spread wrong information.
16:17 August 27, 2012 by raandy
Germany has some of the most advanced auto manufacturing factories in the world.

Check this VW factory out , impressive...

http://youtu.be/nd5WGLWNllA
03:54 September 1, 2012 by sally#
Opel's decision is best of a bad bunch.Auto parts maker Schaeffler also had a similar difficult time in 2009 after its takeover of Continental and the company also announced it would put 20,000 employees on short-time work in order to save cost. But now Schaeffler has already bottomed out.It created approximately 1,800 new jobs during the first half year of 2012. So I believe Opel will get through the low time as Schaeffler.
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