GERMANY: Workers petition General Motors managers to keep plant open

By just-auto.com editorial team | 30 November 2004

Union representatives at the main plant of General Motors' Adam Opel unit reportedly have handed over a petition with more than 40,000 signatures calling on management to secure the site's future.

The Associated Press (AP) noted that GM has said that only one of its European plants will be used to produce the midsize car platform shared by the Opel Vectra and Saab 9-3, a task currently divided between the Saab plant in Trollhaettan, Sweden, and the Opel plant in Ruesselsheim, near Frankfurt. That has sparked a fierce contest between the two plants, as the loser risks massive layoffs or even a complete shutdown.

Udo Loewenbrueck, a representative of the IG Metall industrial union, told AP the petition to keep Ruesselsheim open had been launched in mid-September and organisers gathered support from across Germany - including some 2,500 signatures from employees at rival DaimlerChrysler.

Employee representatives have said Opel employees would be willing to increase the flexibility of working arrangements to secure work for Ruesselsheim, the report added.

GM reportedly says it must reduce costs at its money-losing European operations - Opel, Saab and Vauxhall - to cope with sluggish consumer demand and increased competition from Japanese and other car makers.

"The firm must make a profit again to be able to invest in the future," Opel chief Hans Demant told AP.

The automaker has announced plans to slash as many as 12,000 jobs in the next two years in Europe, most of them in Germany, in order to cut excess manufacturing capacity, the Associated Press said, adding that German employee representatives are calling on GM to implement its restructuring programme without closing any plants or firing workers.