Rumours that Opel plans to cut its European workforce have been met with alarm from one major union source, who is cautioning against any downsizing, insisting the automaker needs all the "creativity" it can secure.

GM division Opel's head Karl-Friedrich Stracke was quoted this week as saying new vehicle demand in Europe would weaken significantly next year with some "painful cooling," while the American manufacturer's CFO Dan Amman was also cited as adding nothing was "off the table," in terms of restructuring European operations.

However, the comments, which come hot on the heels of speculation this summer that GM was looking to offload Opel, have provoked the ire of a major labour body at the German division.

"It is more of the same as before - my analysis is: as long as Opel belongs to GM it does not look very good," an authoritative source close to the automaker's main union told just-auto. "They keep import[ing] stuff from Korea and [is it] going to take that long until the European customer realises Opel is becoming an importer, less than a constructor.

"They are back on the old track which means the only [ground] is to try and break the power and influence of the trade unions. I would say you need all the creativity you get."

Earlier this week, GM CEO Dan Akerson delivered third quarter results at which he noted a "solid quarter thanks to our leadership positions in North America and China," although Europe was not cited in the same positive terms.

"GM continues to execute the plan we outlined for investors in 2010," said GM senior vice president and CFO Dan Ammann. "That includes investing in our products, further strengthening our balance sheet, generating cash and profits each quarter, and maintaining our low break-even level.

"The next level of performance will come as we systematically eliminate complexity and cost throughout the organisation."

A spokesman for Opel in Germany told just-auto: "We do not comment on Dan Amman's quote."