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Labour leaders ready Opel deal

2009-03-13 07:20

Frankfurt - Labour representatives from General Motors' European operations are ready to make concessions to help create an independent Opel/Vauxhall company and stave off layoffs and plant closures, they said on Thursday.

"In a meeting of the European General Motors workers forum, workers representatives and representatives from the union have signalled their willingness to create a new Opel/Vauxhall Europe company," a statement said.

They detailed a series of conditions on which their support for cost cuts would depend, including guarantees of no forced layoffs or plant closures.

The stricken US carmaker is seeking $1.2 billion in labour cost savings plus 3.3 billion euros in European state aid to rescue Opel as an independent company backed by outside investors.

The representatives said GM, struggling to stay alive with the help of US government bailouts, must hold no more than a minority stake in the new Opel and that GM workers should be able to take stakes in the company.

In addition, production volume should be fairly distributed among all European plants and management should use all means available to secure jobs, the representatives said.

The latest overtures comes as time and options may be running out for Opel, which GM officials have said faces a cash crunch as early as the second quarter of the year.

Indian automaker Tata joined a list of other carmakers that have said they are not interested in taking a stake in Opel, German paper Die Welt reported, citing a Tata spokesman.

German peers BMW and Daimler have said they are not interested in taking a stake, while Volkswagen said it does not want to buy any Opel plants in Germany.

Germany's finance minister voiced reservations on Monday about giving state help to Opel and a government spokesman said a decision on whether to grant aid was unlikely this month.

Opel has obtained a loan guarantee from Spain but still needs 2.6 billion euros of the same from Germany, the head of GM Europe told a German newspaper.


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