Germany’s metal worker union IG Metall proposed a new plan yesterday to solve the overcapacity at Opel without undue grief on its members: The union will agree to the closure of Opel’s Bochum plant, if Opel guarantees that no hobs will be lost until 2018. Reuters takes that as a tacit warming up to the inevitable, while demanding the seemingly impossible.
“Previously the union had never openly spoken of accepting a closure of the Opel plant in the Ruhr industrial heartland,” Reuters says. And this is what IG Metall says:
“In order to ensure that workers do not solely bear the risks of restructuring the Bochum site, we must guarantee that no one is unemployed once the manufacturing of the current vehicle ends.”
“We demand security for the employees through the end of 2018.”
“The economic situation of the company (Opel) is worse than ever before and has reached a dimension that threatens its existence. Due to a historically low market share, the production plants in Europe are utilized only to 50 percent,”
Of course, the thought comes to mind that closing a factory while keeping workers on the payroll doing nothing is a bit counter-productive. Don’t blame the German unions for not being open to new ideas that have worked wonderfully elsewhere. GM and the UAW’s former consultant Steve Girsky should be intimately familiar with the program. Before GM went bust, 12,000 UAW members were paid not to work as part of the jobs bank program, and IG Metall demands equal unpaid time for its members.