GM has a huge problem in Bochum – or an unexpected opportunity. Workers at Opel’s Bochum plant yesterday refused a restructuring plan that would guarantee auto production in Bochum through 2016, and that would keep the plant making components after that. GM answered on the same day: ”Production of the Zafira Tourer and the waiver of enforced redundancy will end after 2014.” This would open the door to closing the doors in Bochum.
It also could become extremely costly for GM. (Read More…)
The head of Germany’s metal worker union IG Metall, Berthold Huber, urged workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant to join the UAW. In a letter distributed to Chattanooga workers, obtained by Reuters, Huber says: (Read More…)
News of Volkswagen being open to establishing a works council at its plant in Chattanooga are widely interpreted as the UAW getting a long-sought nose under the southern tent. It could also be a shrewd move to block the union. (Read More…)
After a round of psychological warfare with targeted leaks, GM seems to be ready to attack the overcapacity at lossmaking Opel in earnest – eventually. The German government reportedly has been informed that Opel wants to close Bochum. Jobs will be exported to low cost countries such as Poland, Russia, China, India, Mexico and Brazil. Cars will be imported even from China. (Read More…)
From his dream of a UAW-represented VW plant in Tennessee (ha!) to his desire for a seat on the boards of the Detroit automakers (double ha!), UAW President Bob King has a way of idealizing the German unions. And no wonder: while the UAW spent decades fostering a radical sense of entitlement, German works councils entwined themselves with their respective employers, earning places of power among the world’s largest automakers. But unions are a delicate balancing act in every country and culture, and even Germany’s unions, widely hailed as the example for the industry, can run into trouble.
Last time it was Volkswagen’s powerhouse works council, which erupted in a scandal over VW-funded sex tourism (with free Viagra and shopping trips for the wives!) back in 2005. With Opel’s union boss, Klaus Franz, becoming caught up in his own (slightly less lurid) scandal, GM’s acknowledgment that more cuts could be coming for Opel could prove just as explosive for the German works council model.
Sex and money are known as the world’s biggest motivators. Volkswagen used sex to make its shop stewards cooperative. This ended in a huge scandal. Opel is using money instead. “The system is the same as formerly at Volkswagen – only without sex,” writes Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in a long article about “illegal bonus payments” to members of Opel’s works council. (Read More…)