Opel is to retain the option of forced redundancies at its Bochum plant as it seeks to slash a further 1,200 posts from its workforce.

Some 600 people have already left the Rhein-Ruhr plant, but Opel now says it needs to accelerate the pace of job losses as it looks to implement a European restructuring plan that saw the automaker also close its Antwerp plant last year.

Opel previously announced a leave package of up to EUR100,000 (US$142,000) for employees with more than 20 years service as well as the possibility of 300 staff transferring to its technical development centre in Russelsheim. For those opting for the latter move, a one-time payment of EUR25,000 was offered.

“The intention of Opel is 1,200 people leave Bochum, preferably with a leave package or alternatively transfer to Russelsheim,” a GM Europe spokesman in Germany told just-auto.

“For the time being, we have not enough applicants to accept these programmes and we have to accelerate the job cut [s] because we have to have finished the restructuring of the Bochum plant by end of this year.”

Both parties will now be subject to a binding mediation process led by an independent body with a committee meeting in the next few weeks to find a solution.

German law requires such a process to start if employers and employees cannot agree on common ground.

“In the mediation committee, we will discuss the viable options – there is an option of forced redundancies,” said the GME spokesman, who declined to confirm media speculation of a 1 May deadline.

“Forced redundancies are an option, but not the preferred [one].