Opel is considering cutting working hours in all of its European plants to 30 hours.

Klaus Franz, head of the Opel works council, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) newspaper that the Bochum, Eisenach, Antwerp and Saragossa plants would be affected. Rüsselsheim, which is currently ramping up production of the new Insignia would not be subject to the shorter working time.

The Bild newspaper reported that Opel managers will also see their incomes cut. GM Europe chief, Carl-Peter Forster has reportedly ordered that no bonus payments or any other performance-related payments are made for the next 14 months. The rules apply to senior management in all European locations, including Saab in Sweden.

Opel chief Hans Demant told the FAZ newspaper that the company is preparing for tough times ahead. Opel is revising down its planned production volumes for 2009 by ten percent. The company is forecasting the sales in Europe, including Russia, would be just 19m units next year, rather than the 22m units that had originally been expected. Opel would therefore produce 1.5m cars, rather than 1.7m.

Demant confirmed previous statements that even if parent company General Motors were to go bankrupt, Opel operations would be guaranteed. A fierce debate is raging in Germany about whether the government should offer guarantees to Opel operations, without offering the same help to other manufacturers. The German government has promised to decide by Christmas whether to offer billions of euros in guarantees to Opel. There are also concerns that European Union competition rules might forbid any such help.

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