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GERMANY: Union opposes potential Opel forced redundancies

By Simon Warburton | 22 March 2011

A European labour body has set itself firmly against potential plans by Opel to impose forced redundancies at its Bochum plant.

The GM division said it would retain the option of forced redundancies as it seeks to cut a further 1,200 posts from its workforce as part of radical restructuring plans designed to turn around losses of $1.8bn.

"Of course we are against forced redundancies, that must be clear," GM European Works Council vice chairman Rudi Kennes told just-auto. "If this goes through, Bochum will take a big hit - 1,200 workers is a lot, even one is too much.

"They do not always prove all the measures they take are really necessary."

Kennes noted the issue was being dealt with at local trade union level in Bochum, but the issue could escalate to a European pitch at some point. However, he stressed negotiations were still at an early stage.

"As long as they are talking it is a good thing I guess, although the subject is not a good one," he said.

Opel acknowledged yesterday (21 March) it need to "accelerate the job cuts" at Bochum, although insisted it was providing financial incentives such as EUR100,000 (US$142,000) for employees who wished to leave and who had more than 20 years service.

Equally, the manufacturer highlighted the fact it had offered 300 staff the chance to move to the technical development centre in Russelsheim with a one-off payment of EUR25,000.

Opel told just-auto it had not received enough applicants to accept its leave package programmes, hence the need for acceleration in job cuts

Both Opel and staff representatives will now be subject to a binding mediation process led by an independent body with a committee meeting in the next few weeks to find a solution.

German law requires such a process to start if employers and employees cannot agree on common ground.