“This would be the most expensive plant closure of all times,” warned Rainer Einenkel, chief of Opel’s works council and Vice Chairman of its supervisory board. ”This would cost GM billions,” Einenkel said today at a news conference following a staff meeting in Bochum. “Opel would not survive this.”
A few days ago, Germany’s motor mouth Ferdinand Dudenhöffer had painted a semi-rosy picture. Sure, paying each employee $200,000 as severance would hurt. But closing Bochum would save around $280 million a year, three years later, the investment would be paid back, Dudenhöffer argued. Payback would not happen until 2018, closures are only possible starting in 2015.
Dudenhöffer and GM management are dreaming, says Einenkel. There are no 3,200 workers, but 5,000. Some 1,800 are loaned to partner companies, but have a contract in Bochum. Workers “won’t go voluntarily,” Einenkel told Reuters, signaling costly fights in the courts. The Bochum plant sits on top of former coalmines, no investor will buy the plant, fearing uncontrollable environmental cleanup costs. Closing Bochum could also severely damage Opel’s brand, Einenkel said.
Before that happens, Opel will severely damage GM earnings , for many years.