Metalworkers get pay rise, vow to take on Opel

Some 800,000 metalworkers in the south-western German state of Baden-Württemberg won a 4.3 percent pay rise after marathon negotiations, their union IG Metall said on Saturday.

Metalworkers get pay rise, vow to take on Opel
Photo: DPA

The regional deal, the first to be signed in Germany this year, sets a benchmark for wage negotiations in other regions for a sector that employs 3.6 million people and is the backbone of Germany’s export-driven industry.

IG Metall had demanded a rise of 6.5 percent over 12 months, pressuring the businesses of the sector with country-wide strikes since the end of April, notably by employees of Bosch, Siemens and Daimler.

Wages had stagnated, but workers have been emboldened by Germany’s resistance to the eurozone crisis to demand a bigger a piece of the pie.

But they have not done as well as Germany’s two million civil servants, who last month secured a 6.3 percent pay hike over two years.

Yet hot on the heels of the agreement came a specific conflict between the union and General Motors over fears that an Opel factory in Bochum could be closed.

“We are in a position to lead a very tough conflict with Opel and GM,” said Armin Schild, leader of IG Metall Frankfurt.

“Opel and GM managers should know in advance what they are letting themselves in for,” he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Saturday.

US auto giant GM, which owns Opel, confirmed this week that it would stop producing the Astra car in Germany, moving the work instead to the UK where workers have agreed lower wages and a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week regime – and Poland.

But capacity at the Rüsselsheim factory will continue to be used, the company said, leading to speculation that production of the Zafira compact van could be moved from the Bochum factory to Rüsselsheim.

Schild said there were no hard feelings for the British workers who had accepted the deal, but said he knew no company where the management evoked as little trust as Opel.


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Germany orders recall of 43,000 Opel diesel vehicles

Germany's KBA transport authority said Friday it had ordered carmaker Opel to recall tens of thousands of diesel vehicles worldwide that were configured to fool regulatory emissions tests.

Germany orders recall of 43,000 Opel diesel vehicles
A traffic light turns red in front of the company logo of the car manufacturer Opel in Hessen. Photo: DPA

The authority “ordered an obligatory recall on October 17th” for Opel Insignia, Cascada and Zafira diesels meeting the latest Euro 6 emissions standard manufactured between 2013 and 2016, saying they were fitted with an
“illegal 'defeat device'”.

Such software is designed to make vehicles appear less polluting during regulators' tests than in real on-road driving.

Opel has already begun voluntary refits to the 96,000 affected vehicles across Europe, a company spokesman told AFP, with some 43,000 yet to be updated.

SEE ALSO: German prosecutors raid Opel over diesel allegations

That means an officially-approved refit procedure exists that can quickly be applied to the recalled vehicles.

However, Opel has rejected the KBA's finding that its vehicles performed illegally, and said Monday it would contest any compulsory recall order.

Opel this week became the latest German household name to suffer a police search at its headquarters in the wake of the “dieselgate” scandal, in which Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to installing defeat devices in 11 million vehicles worldwide.

Other prominent carmakers like Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler and BMW have already digested recalls of their own, while official probes into the emissions cheating are under way.

Meanwhile, German luxury automaker Daimler on Friday again cut its profit outlook for 2018, warning that costs related to polluting diesel engines would drag down earnings.

The Mercedes-Benz maker, which this year had to recall more than 770,000 diesel cars across Europe, said it now expected earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to come in “significantly below” last year's figure.

The diesel saga erupted in 2015 when German rival Volkswagen admitted to installing “defeat devices” in 11 million diesels worldwide designed to dupe emissions tests and make the cars seem less polluting than they were.

Suspicions have since spread to other automakers as well.