• Germany's news in English

Opel could shut factories to survive

AFP/The Local · 21 Mar 2009, 13:56

Published: 21 Mar 2009 13:56 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

“If one thinks purely in terms of operating costs, and not in terms of individual jobs, it would of course be sensible,” Hans Demant told the weekly magazine Wirtschaftswoche.

“We want to do our utmost to avoid closures. Whether we will manage it remains to be seen,” he added.

For the moment measures to cut certain departments and jobs and reduce the wage bill were being envisaged, Demant said, adding, “We are aware that these are painful.”

Der Spiegel magazine reported earlier this month that Opel’s management planned to shut three facilities in Europe - two in Germany and one in Belgium - and sack 11,000 people, a fifth of its workforce.

The aim is to save some $1.2 billion dollars (€949 million) in staff costs, the magazine wrote. An alternative proposal would be to cut only 3,500 jobs but reduce wages across the board, it added.

Meanwhile the daily Bild on Saturday quoted the head of the works committee, Klaus Franz, saying that Opel employees were envisaging a joint operation with the group’s 2,000 concessionaires to buy 25 percent of the company.

They would be prepared to give up some of their wages to fund the project, he added.

Demant said bankruptcy was “not an option” for Opel, which was engaged in “very constructive discussions” with the government to obtain state aid amounting to €3.3 billion.

He said it was not a question of directly injecting cash into Opel but providing limited guarantees under a plan presented in late February that also foresees the German car maker gaining a large degree of autonomy from GM.

Labour Minister Olaf Scholz told the weekly Bild am Sonntag in an interview to be published on Sunday that “letting Opel die would be more than a mistake, it would be an unacceptable setback for the government.”

The cost would be billions of euros, the Social Democrat said, calling on Christian Democrat Chancellor Angela Merkel to promise Opel workers that they could count on the cross-party government.

Story continues below…

Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said on Tuesday that GM was prepared to scale down its stake in Opel to a minority shareholding.

He said he had also sought guarantees from the US government that any German public aid for Opel would not be transferred to boost GM.

After meeting his US counterpart, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Guttenberg told reporters that “the glimmer of hope for Opel was becoming a bit brighter.”

But despite “considerable progress” in the talks, many unresolved issues remained, he said.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Eurowings braces as cabin crew union proclaims strike
Photo: DPA

A union representing cabin crew for Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings announced that strikes could take place at any time over the next two weeks, starting on Monday.

Mysterious German U-boat wreckage found off Scotland
Photo: ScottishPower

First World War U-boat "attacked by sea monster” thought to be found off Scottish coast.

Supermarket Edeka warns of exploding apple juice bottles
Photo: DPA

"Risk of injury" from "Gut und Günstig" sparkling apple juice bottles has forced Germany's largest supermarket to recall the product.

By wheelchair from Syria to Germany: teen's story of hope
Nujeen Mustafa. Photo: HarperCollins-William Collins Publicity/Private

She tackled the gruelling 2,000-kilometre migrant trail in a wheelchair, translating along the way for other refugees using English she learned from a US soap opera. Now this teen is living in Germany and hoping to inspire others with a newly published memoir.

Berlin Zoo to have a pair of pandas by next summer
A recently born panda pair at Vienna Zoo. Photo: DPA

The giant bamboo-eating bears will move into a brand new 5,000 square-metre enclosure in the capital's Zoologischer Garten.

Two new spider species discovered in Munich
Zoropsis spinimana. Photo: rankingranqueen / Wikimedia Commons

It's news every arachnophobe in Munich is no doubt thrilled to hear: two types of spider new to the region have been discovered in the Bavarian capital - and one of them bites!

After woman's body found in barrel, husband may walk free
Franziska S., who went missing 24 years ago. Photo: Hanover police.

A woman disappeared in Hanover 24 years ago, but no one reported her missing. Although her husband has now confessed to her murder, he still may not step foot in jail.

Two injured after army tank falls 50 metres in Alps
A Bundeswehr Puma tank. File photo: DPA

A Bundeswehr (German army) soldier has been severely injured after the tank he was riding in crashed 50 metres down an embankment after going off course in bad weather.

Teen girl stands trial for 'Isis' police stabbing in Hanover
Police guard the courthouse in Celle. Photo: DPA

A teenage girl stands trial from Thursday in Germany for stabbing a police officer, an assault allegedly "ordered" by Isis but which was not claimed by the jihadist group.

Merkel threatens Putin with more sanctions on Berlin visit
Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel created a united front with French President Francois Hollande in Berlin on Thursday to denounce Russia’s “war crimes” in Syria.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd