General Motors on Tuesday said it has agreed with labour unions at subsidiary Adam Opel AG to try to keep its main German plants operating beyond 2010 and avoid forced layoffs, Dow Jones reported.


“Both sides want to make the Ruesselsheim and Bochum facilities competitive enough to be maintained as automobile plants beyond 2010. The same applies to the Kaiserslautern site,” GM reportedly said in a statement.


The three plants are the focus of GM’s plans to slash €500 million off the annual costs of its loss-making European operations, which includes Opel, the UK Vauxhall brand and Swedish marque Saab. The restructuring plan calls for job cuts of up to 12,000 across Europe – 10,000 of them in Germany.


GM also said it aims to find “socially acceptable” ways of carrying out the planned job cuts, Dow Jones added.


The agreement reportedly meets key demands of labour unions and paves the way for further negotiations. Adam Opel’s works council has said it would only negotiate if GM agrees to keep the plants open and avoid forced job losses. Works councils in Germany represent employee interests to management and need to be consulted on job cuts.


Juergen Peters, head of labour union IG Metall, which represents Opel’s German workforce told the news agency the agreement demonstrates a “genuine will” to solve the problems at the negotiating table on the part of GM.


The negotiations between GM and Opel’s works councils will continue “almost each and every day this week and next,” said Ruediger Assion, a spokesman for GM Europe, told Dow Jones.


The agreement allowing the two sides to hash out their differences at the negotiating table comes as workers at GM’s plant in Bochum, Germany, continued their walkout, which began on Thursday.


IG Metall’s Peters indicated that the union will now push to get Bochum workers back on the job in order to give the negotiations a chance, Dow Jones said.