GERMANY: General Motors' Opel workers want job guarantees to at least 2010
Workers at General Motors' German unit Adam Opel are seeking job guarantees until at least 2010, but management wants to lower pay and adjust working hours, Opel's works council reportedly said on Wednesday.
Opel management proposed "cuts in income and social benefits for staff as well as changes in working time", the works council said in a statement cited by Reuters, a stance at odds with labour's call for preserving current pay levels and ensuring jobs.
Workers also want management to promise capacity and development projects for each plant and maintain training levels at the current round of wage talks, the report said.
An Opel spokesman confirmed to the news agency the terms management demanded, but wouldn't provide additional details until the conclusion of negotiations expected towards the end of October.
Reuters noted that the negotiating stances mirror those at other big carmakers in Germany, where employers are seeking tough concessions from workers in order to boost competitiveness at a time of slack demand, pressure on prices and capacity overhang.
The talks are seen as a test of workers' appetite for easing rigid work rules in return for job security in a process that could spur Europe's biggest economy.
The news agency said Volkswagen, Europe's biggest carmaker, this week proposed a two-year wage freeze and a shift to more performance-related pay as a step toward cutting its German labour costs by 30% in six years.
The IG Metall metalworkers union and VW's works council reportedly has insisted on a 4% pay rise and 10-year job guarantees in wage talks that start next month.
Reuters noted that, last month, DaimlerChrysler negotiated €500 million in annual cost savings from workers from 2007 in returning for guaranteeing 160,000 jobs in Germany until 2012.