Spanish Opel plant is about to start building redesigned Meriva

Spanish Opel plant is about to start building redesigned Meriva

After 10 hours of intense negotiations, Spanish unions and General Motors have struck an intial agreement for a new four-year wage deal at the US automaker's main Figuerelas factory in Zaragoza, Spain.

“We are pretty happy with the outcome but workers still have to agree to this,” enthused a union official in Madrid, saying that was expected to happen over the weekend.

Under the deal, workers at Figuerelas, which makes cars for GM’s Opel brand, will get a 1% salary increase for 2009 and this year and 2% in 2011 and 2012.

Clearing the negotiation’s biggest sticking point, GM also agreed to allow 350 of the 900 workers expected to leave the factory to come back as auxiliary staff after 17 to 22 months off work. All temporary workersemployed in 2013 will also receive fixed contracts, the union source said.

The agreement comes after months of negotiations at the 8,000-worker site, which makes the Opel/Vauxhall Meriva minivan/MPV, Corsa supermini and Combo small van for global distribution.

GM’s global restructuring initially envisaged 1,700 workers leaving the site but the automaker relented last September after unions staged large protests in Zaragoza and the government lobbied heavily against the plans.

According to unions, the facility expects to work at “full steam” until 2016 as it prepares to assemble the redesigned Meriva minivan/MPV and the next generation Corsa and Combo.