Opel's unions have agreed to further talks on maintaining profitability at the carmaker in a sign that labour representatives might understand further restructuring may be required.

Members of the supervisory board, management board and the works council have agreed the company needs to remain profitable even in an economic downturn, Opel said in a statement.

A joint statement signed by Opel chief executive Karl-Friedrich Stracke, General Motors Vice Chairman Stephen Girsky, and two labour representatives, Klaus Franz and Wolfgang Schaefer-Klug, said: "We are discussing appropriate strategies and will keep our employees and the public informed."

The statement added the carmaker remains on course to launch six new products in 2012 which will lead to market share gains.

GM has admitted attempts to restructure Opel, which lost US$1.6bn last year, have not worked so far and moved to replace the management of its European unit.

But efforts to cut costs aggressively have been rebuffed by labour leader Klaus Franz, who said last month he was "astonished" by the threat of a potential plant closing, adding GM's current labour deal barred closures and factory job cuts to 2014.

Under a restructuring plan presented in February last year, Opel plans to achieving profitability by 2012 following a 20% capacity reduction across Europe.

But falling demand resulted in a US$300m third-quarter loss for GM in Europe. It also dropped its 2011 break-even target for Opel which has set itself the target of achieving EUR1bn (US$1.33bn) profit from 2016.