BELGIUM: Union says Opel plant closure talks at stalemate
A European labour group present at yesterday's (1 February) meeting with Opel has said there was now a stalemate with the General Motors unit concerning the closure of its Antwerp plant in Belgium.
The European Metalworkers Federation (EMF) met Opel CEO Nick Reilly to discuss the closure which threatens around 8,300 jobs following the decision not to manufacture a small SUV.
"Nick Reilly is saying the SUV never was a contract - we say it was a legal binding contract otherwise what is the point in signing any deal?" EMF company policy director Tony Murphy told just-auto.
Murphy noted that the problem with the SUV production being given to South Korea was that: "The SUV was allocated, it was on the back of cost savings introduced by the workforce during the past two years. They feel betrayed. This is now going through the legal system."
Details of this are as yet unclear, but an Opel Belgium spokeswoman said: "There is a legal proceeding going on, but I can't comment on the content."
Opel insists SUV production at Antwerp was only "a plan" and that global economic factors meant "this plan had to be changed," with this now appearing to set both sides at loggerheads.
"At that time, they [Opel] confirmed a plan to produce a small SUV but unfortunately the plan in its totality cannot be implemented," added the Belgian spokeswoman.
The spokeswoman added further talks were planned but no date had yet been set for negotiations.
"There is a stalemate, there's no doubt about that," added Murphy. "The company keep saying they are willing to talk, but they are not willing to listen."
Murphy added there was a meeting planned for 23 February in Brussels at which general secretaries from labour groups in around 10 European countries would be present "to see what can or can't be done." The policy director added there was more than a 50:50 chance of some sort of demonstration should discussions lag, although no precise details were available.
"We will sit down and talk, but we more and more get the impression the company is going through the motions," added Murphy. "We are in the hands of the company to come back and have another meeting."
Opel plans to halt production at Antwerp this year. The closure is designed to restore profit to the manufacturer and its UK sister brand Vauxhall by eliminating 8,300 jobs and cutting capacity by 20%.