Opel Workers Set to Strike, Germans Recalling $2.2B Bridge Loan

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

GM’s last minute (i.e. post-German election) decision to pull out of a deal to sell its European Opel division to a consortium lead by Canada’s Magna Corporation has left chaos in its wake. The Associated Press reports that Opel workers throughout Europe are planning to strike GM on Thursday, protesting the automaker’s planned “rationalization” of over ten thousand jobs. “IG Metall said workers at Opel’s four German plants would halt work Thursday, followed by similar moves Friday at other Opel locations in Europe.” Meanwhile, German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle vowed “We will get the taxpayers’ money back.” Note: that’s German taxpayers’ money. And there’s only one way the nationalized automaker’s going to pay back that loan: with American taxpayers’ money. Seriously? Seriously. “GM Europe spokesman Karin Kirchner said the company is prepared to repay the euro1.5 billion bridge loan from the German government. ‘If we’re asked, GM will repay the bridge loan in question.'” Uh, that didn’t sound like a “request” to me. And speaking of plain speaking . . .

“This is an unbelievable action,” Berthold Huber, the union’s president, said. “Opel has been brought to this difficult situation, through years of mistakes by GM’s management. Therefore, it’s not likely that GM will be able to produce a viable solution” for Opel.

So, what’s GM’s plan going forward? Once frshly elected German Chancellor Angela Merkel finished speaking at a joint session of the U.S. Congress and blew town, GM CEO Fritz “I’m a Goofy Goofer” Henderson said GM will work with Europe’s unions “to develop a plan for meaningful contributions to Opel’s restructuring.”

Good luck with that.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Rdeiriar Rdeiriar on Nov 05, 2009

    I don't think there is a legal framework for a quick nationalization in Germany, if GM pays back the bridge loan by the end of the month. If it doesn't, it's either nationalization or insolvency for Opel. We'll see. Pass the popcorn ....

  • Jerome10 Jerome10 on Nov 05, 2009

    Man, I'm shocked at how everyone here seems to take the side of the Germans. I was shocked at the beginning when GM said they would get rid of Opel. What the heck for?? They finally have a seriously good lineup, they sell well in Europe, and the technology developed can be shared around the rest of the world. My reaction when I read it? Good. That's the right move. Selling it to some parts maker would NOT have done anyone any good. Not GM, not Opel, not the workers, not Magna, not the engineers. This is the right move. And I don't understand why the Germans are getting their pants all up in a bunch over this.

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