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Following yesterday’s announcement that around 12,000 GM Europe jobs will be axed in 2005 and 2006, some 2,000 workers stayed off the job Friday at a General Motors plant – Bochum – in Germany. The Bochum plant is widely considered to be in the front line for job losses which will be concentrated in GM’s high-cost German facilities.

There is speculation in Germany that the Bochum plant could be closed after 2006.

The work stoppage at the Bochum plant, which started Thursday, continued as management and employee representatives began talks on how many jobs would go in Germany.

GM Europe boss Carl-Peter Forster told reporters at the headquarters of GM’s Adam Opel AG subsidiary in Ruesselsheim that the company’s proposals were a “preliminary plan”.

“We are relying on a quick agreement” with worker representatives, Forster said, in remarks quoted by AP.

AP said that on Thursday, Forster stressed high labour costs in Germany as he outlined the cost reduction plan and singled out the ageing plant in Bochum, where 7,600 workers turn out Opel Astras, as having a “competitiveness issue.”

Around 4,000 upset Bochum workers at the plant abandoned their shifts late Thursday, and the walkout continued into the day shift.