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September 21, 2009

SPAIN: Opel workers demonstrate against planned layoffs

Thousands of people took to the streets of Zaragoza, Spain, on Saturday to protest Opel plans to sack 1,700 workers at its Figuerelas factory on the outskirts of the city, a local union official told just-auto on Monday.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Zaragoza, Spain, on Saturday to protest Opel plans to sack 1,700 workers at its Figuerelas factory on the outskirts of the city, a local union official told just-auto on Monday.

Opel’s expected new owner, a Canadian-Russian consortium led by Magna International, wants to make the redundancies as part of plans to streamline the automaker after purchasing a 55% stake from General Motors. Magna has confirmed it will axe 10,500 Opel jobs across Europe.

The cuts will see 1,700 workers leave the factory, a key local employer which makes the the Opel/Vauxhall Meriva MPV and Corsa supermini, and reduce output by 320,000 vehicles a year, the union official said, adding that further demonstrations – and possibly strikes – were likely.

“If this is approved this will be the beginning of the end of the factory, which employs 8,000 people and accounts for 23% of jobs in [the province of] Aragon,” he said.  “We are going to fight very hard to prevent this.”

Spain’s government is also backing the workers, saying it would intervene to ensure the factory’s survival.

Ivan Castano

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