North-Rhein Westphalia’s Prime Minister, Hannelore Kraft, says she will fly to Detroit for urgent talks with General Motors if such a visit can persuade the US automaker to retain its plants at Bochum.

An intense spotlight has fallen on Bochum following last week’s announcement GM’s Vauxhall plant at Ellesmere Port in the UK would be one of two lead sites for the next generation Astra along with Gliwice in Poland.

Such a move could see one or both of the two Bochum plants under threat after 2014 following the ending of labour agreements and potentially throwing thousands of Opel staff – in whose North-Rhein Westphalia State Bochum lies – out of work.

Opel has two plants at Bochum – Bochum-Laer’s plant one presses panels and assembles cars, while plant two, in in Langendreer several kilometres to the east, makes gearboxes.

Kraft made the offer to GM this morning (21 May) following a visit to the Bochum site to talk to workers and Opel/Vauxhall CEO, Karl-Friedrich Stracke and following her party’s impressive showing in last week’s regional elections, in which German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party was roundly trounced.

The North-Rhein Westphalia Prime Minister added any visit to GM’s US headquarters could include State chiefs of Opel’s other German plants.

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“If there is any political help Opel needed or talks Opel needed, even in Detroit with GM, the State Ministers are ready for these talks, collectively or separately, a spokesman for Hannelore Kraft told just-auto from her party headquarters in Düsseldorf.

“The aim is we still have guarantees for four German factories up to 2015 – we in North-Rhein Westphalia fight for the plant in Bochum – she [Kraft] expressed that to the employees at Bochum.”

The Prime Minister’s spokesman was careful not to commit North-Rhein Westphalia offering any hard cash if she travelled to Detroit for a meeting with GM, but said political help would be offered if required.

It is not the first time such political solidarity has manifested itself, with all four State Prime Minsters in whose regions Opel is situated issuing a joint statement recently.

The Premiers of Rheiland-Palatinate (Kurt Beck), Hesse (Volker Bouffier) and Thuringen (Christine Lieberknect), as well as Kraft, all issued a strongly-worded appeal to General Motors to keep its production in Germany, although the game appears to have changed somewhat now Detroit has made its future Astra plans more clear.

If Kraft and the other Premiers were to travel to Detroit, this would be before 28 June, the day on which the Opel CEO is due to present his European plans to the automaker’s supervisory board.

Following this morning’s meeting with the Bochum workforce, Kraft’s spokesman said she had to fly straight to Berlin, but contact with Stracke would be maintained.

“We really want to use the time we have up to 28 June,” he said. “We will stay on with the talks with the unions and with Stracke. What help they need, they will get from us.”

“Everybody has a telephone and everybody has a chance to talk.”