Volvo’s largest union has broadly welcomed the manufacturer’s takeover by Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, but is stressing the importance of workers’ rights in the new operation.

Geely has acquired Volvo for US$1.8bn with new chairman of the board Li Shufu making reference several times yesterday (2 August) to the manufacturer’s labour organisations.

“We are optimistic about the deal – employees have been waiting for a long time for this” – a spokeswoman for the IF Metall union in Stockholm told just-auto.

“We hope this gives certainty to Volvo – the Geely owners have good experience and international knowledge. “We work for union rights – we really hope Geely will be open-minded on our Swedish model – that is what we work for,” she said.

IF Metall represents around 10,000 of Volvo’s estimated 14,000 employees and to date there has been no suggestion that there will be any implication for jobs.

The IF Metall spokeswoman echoed that optimism: “It is about jobs,” she said. “China is a very big market and we hope this will be good for exports and for the people who work at Volvo.

Geely has previously said it aims to sell 150,000 Volvo cars annually in China by 2015 and has plans to assemble the Volvo XC60 locally by the end of 2010, followed by the S60 model in 2011.

The S40 and S80 models, currently assembled by Changan Ford-Mazda, could also be transferred to a new plant.

IF Metall president Stefan Lofven underlined the importance of the unions in the new Geely ownership structure.

“We assume the new owners will have an open attitude and practice work under the Swedish model, where trade and business closely develop relationships,” he said.

Lofven is scheduled to visit China in October. Volvo’s other main unions are Unionen and Sveriges Ingenjorer.