The Opel works council has suggested that Antwerp build Chevrolet cars.

According to Automobilwoche, works council chairman Klaus Franz has suggested that GM could save around 500 euros per car by shifting production to Europe from South Korea.

GM Europe will be entering into negotiations with its workforce over the next few weeks to seek cost savings for the four Astra plants. Last week, GM announced that the next generation Astra would be built at Bochum, Trollhattan, Ellesmere Port, and Gliwice, meaning that Antwerp would lose out.

A shift is already being cut at Antwerp this year with the loss of 1,400 jobs. GM has said it will consider building other models at the plant, but a decision has not yet been made. GM workers are concerned that GM is investing heavily in eastern Europe and investing heavily there. GM is currently considering taking over the former Daewoo plant in Craiova, Romania to build Chevrolet models for eastern Europe. Franz is suggesting that the cars could be built at Antwerp instead.

According to the newspaper Antwerp lost the competition to build the new Astra narrowly to Bochum. Franz said that Antwerp is amongst the most efficient plants in the group and that the decision not to build the next generation Astra there was politically motivated.

GM is nevertheless seeking job cuts at Bochum. It wants to produce the Astra with a workforce of 3,200, meaning the reduction of 1,700 jobs, according to Bochum plant works council chief, Rainer Einenkel. 900 jobs are already scheduled to be cut, meaning a further 800 will need to go before 2010. An Opel spokesperson would not verify the figure.

Einenkel told Automobilwoche that the new Astra contract calls for the plant to operate 15 hours a day rather than 24 hours as it does at present. This would translate into 3,200 jobs.

GM Europe chief, Carl-Peter Forster said that some jobs would go at Bochum but that it has not yet been decided how many. An alternative might be reduced working hours.

According to Automobilwoche GM has cut around 9,000 jobs at Opel.

Last month Klaus Franz, said that should things come down to closing a European plant, there would be ‘war’.