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October 22, 2004

GERMANY: GM production heads back to normal as labour talks continue

General Motors rushed to restore normal production in Europe on Thursday as managers and labour leaders met to discuss plans for sweeping job cuts that had triggered staff protests and disrupted factories.

By bcusack

General Motors rushed to restore normal production in Europe on Thursday as managers and labour leaders met to discuss plans for sweeping job cuts that had triggered staff protests and disrupted factories.

According to Reuters, crucial parts needed to make Astra compact cars moved off the assembly line at an Adam Opel plant in Bochum, Germany, after workers there voted on Wednesday to return to work, ending protests against possible layoffs that began on Thursday, October 14. The flow of parts meant three other European factories that depend on Bochum could start gearing up again, the report said, adding that a GM spokesman expected full production there and at the Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port, England, on Friday.

Opel told Reuters the disruptions reduced output by some 7,000 units, some 1.8% of the new Astras sold in Europe last year.

Juergen Peters, head of the IG Metall metalworkers union, reportedly told German television that the talks would be a “conflict-laden event”.

He reiterated that workers want GM to promise to avoid forced layoffs and keep all its Opel, Saab and Vauxhall plants open with a clear plan for the future, Reuters said.

GM declined to comment to the news agency on a report in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that GM aimed to end the third shift and scale back development work at Ruesselsheim, eliminating 3,200 jobs.

“There are lots of options being discussed,” the spokesman reportedly said, adding no quick agreement was expected. “We are talking about weeks rather than days.”

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