GERMANY: Twitchy union demands Opel/Vauxhall identity be kept in any PSA/GM alliance
Opel/Vauxhall's main union body is demanding the European automaker's identity be kept and production sites headcount be maintained should PSA Peugeot Citroen's proposed alliance with General Motors go ahead.
Both GM and PSA are looking to squeeze an annual US$2bn in savings from any alliance, which would be structured around two main pillars: the sharing of vehicle platforms, components and modules; and the creation of a global purchasing joint venture.
The companies will also consider developing a new common platform for low emission vehicles, with the first vehicle on a common platform is expected to launch by 2016.
However, despite the fanfare of yesterday's (29 February) announcement, Opel/Vauxhall's European Employee Forum (EEF) has issued a stark series of demands that its identity be preserved and jobs kept.
"The European Employee Forum demand the alliance will not have any disadvantages for the employees specifically in the European engineering and production sites and that the identity of the brands Opel and Vauxhall will be preserved," an EEF statement said.
"Existing treaties and agreements must be adhered to."
The unions' nervousness comes hot on the heels of last week's announcement by GM of huge full-year EBIT-adjusted losses in Europe of US$700m - a result it described as an "improvement of US$1.3bn over 2010" and intense speculation concering Opel/Vauxhall's future within the Detroit automaker's stable.
The EEF added it had identified several risks due to what is says is the increasing complexity of the many existing cooperative deals of PSA with other car producers.
Other potential pitfalls the labour body highlights as giving cause for concern are what it terms challenges in the escalation in engineering complexity due to increased model diversity, as well as the effects of committed resources and additional costs for setting up the cooperation.
"It will be decisive, which degree of freedom Opel/Vauxhall will have in the shaping of further agreements with PSA," said EEF chairman Wolfgang Schäfer-Klug.
"Chances and risks need to be fairly balanced between PSA and Opel/Vauxhall as well as discussed and agreed in the supervisory board and the different employee participation bodies."
But although both GM and PSA are struggling financially in Europe, they added the alliance does not replace their independent efforts to return their European operations to sustainable profitability.
Both GM and PSA yesterday said that through the agreement, they would share selected platforms, modules and components, on a worldwide basis, in order to achieve cost savings, gain efficiencies, leverage volumes and advanced technologies, and reduce emissions.
Additionally, the alliance is looking at areas for further cooperation, such as integrated logistics and transportation. To this end, GM intends to establish a strategic, commercial cooperation with Gefco, the PSA subsidiary which will provide logistics services to GM in Europe and Russia.