Opel cutting jobs as Merkel says the car maker isn’t ‘relevant’

Opel cutting jobs as Merkel says the car maker isn't 'relevant'
Photo: DPA
The head of the European division of stricken US carmaker General Motors, Carl-Peter Forster, told daily Bild on Wednesday that its German unit Opel will likely have to lay off 3,500 workers.

“We will all have to deal with a loss of income,” he told the paper. “And with that comes the reduction of hopefully not more than 3,500 jobs.”

Last Friday Opel announced that it would attempt to part company with its ailing US parent corporation after GM drew up a plan to cut thousands of European jobs.

Forster told Bild that some 300,000 jobs in Europe depend the success of Opel, and 100,000 are within Germany.

In order to save the storied German automaker – factories in Rüsselsheim, Bochum, Eisenach and Kaiserslautern – the company needs €3.3 billion in loans until 2014, he said.

“Until fall 2008 Opel made a profit,” Forster told the paper. “After a new start we can manage a five percent return.”

But the government may not be so inclined to bail out the struggling company. Chancellor Angela Merkel apparently does not think Opel is important enough to the German economy to offer the same kind of aid that the government has handed banks, daily Rheinische Post reported on Wednesday.

“There are crucially relevant financial institutions,” Merkel reportedly said during a Christian Democratic (CDU) parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday. “But there are no crucially important commercial businesses.”

The statement was a response to Social Democrat (SPD) party leader Franz Müntefering, who had called Opel, which affects thousands of jobs in related fields, a “systemically relevant” company.

Jobs in Germany