By on February 1, 2010

Opel’s turnaround negotiations with German unions have gone pear-shaped again, as top labour rep Klaus Franz left talks denouncing GM’s decision to cut 9972 jobs instead of the promised 8300, according to The Wall Street Journal. “Fundamental questions have not been answered,” fretted Franz. “Management’s plans seem to change on a daily basis.” Rudi Kennes, a labour representative from Antwerp, concurred, saying the atmosphere between management and the unions “has never been as bad as now.” He added ominously that “(Mr Reilly) needs to answer our questions.”

Opel boss Nick Reilly stayed quiet on the matter, saying only that “this was a private meeting.” Stefan Weinmann, spokesperson for GM Europe, batted away Herr Franz’s comments saying that the additional job cuts related to a part-time plan prior to retirement, to which workers had already agreed. Whatever your favorite flavour of spin on the situation might be, things look bleak for the artist formerly known as GM Europe. With governments hesitant to loan much-needed cash, unions already annoyed at the closure of the Antwerp plant, and management seemingly unable to communicate a way through the mess, this turnaround needs a turnaround. And fast.

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8 Comments on “Opel Labour Boss: “Management’s plans seem to change on a daily basis”...”


  • avatar
    Steven02

    I read this article as nothing new. The unions don’t like GM’s ownership of Opel. They were on board with the cuts when they were Magna’s cuts. The unions don’t want to talk to GM, don’t want job cuts, don’t want benefits cut, don’t think that the gov’ts will support restructuring, and there is a lot of over capacity in Europe. If they don’t come up to an agreement, I am sure all of them will be out of a job, which I guess is what they really want.

  • avatar
    baldheadeddork

    This fiasco with Opel has been overshadowed by, well, everything else. But am I the only one wondering how GM is going to survive as an independent company if they don’t have a viable presence in Europe?

  • avatar
    tparkit

    “But am I the only one wondering how GM is going to survive as an independent company if they don’t have a viable presence in Europe?”

    GM only has to hold on in Europe long enough for the IPO, when Washington will claim to have washed its hands of the whole mess. After than, Washington won’t care. (The taxpayers should, though… look for the feds to provide guarantees to whoever the Administraton bribes to buy GM’s shares.)

  • avatar
    Stingray

    If GM losses Opel or GM Europe or whatever operation they have over there, they can start seeing themselves in Chrysler’s mirror.

    However, history may be different this time. There’s the China variable, which Chrysler at the time didn’t have.

    To me, it seems both parties don’t want to solve the matter.

  • avatar
    late_apex

    Seems like they have a failure to communicate.

    GM=person with used car
    Union=used car mechanic

    GM decides to sell their busted car to the mechanic because it’s too expensive to fix. The mechanic likes the idea, but then GM decides not to sell at the last minute. GM still wants the car fixed, at a heavily discounted mechanic rate, and the mechanic doesn’t want to do that because GM must have had the money when they decided not to sell the car.

    GM must now pay the mechanics rate to get the car fixed or let the car sit. For whatever reason GM believes they have leverage to get the mechanic to lower their rates. The mechanic believes the car will sit and rot before they fix it for less than retail.

    The mechanics landlord, the German govt, has already indicated they don’t want to reduce rent to help this customer who made a bad decision to keep a bum car. The landlord would rather give free rent to the mechanic if they can’t get the customer to pay retail than subsidize an un-warranted discount to a lousy customer.

    Outside the analogy I wish we would have let GM fail and supported the out of work union folks with the money GM stole from the tax payers. As it is our investment is doomed and we’ll still have the un-employed union folks to deal with in the end.

    Germany will only be doing one bailout and it will be to offset the union losses once GM folds.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Your analogy is flawed.

      First GM never wanted to sell Opel. GM was out of options when they decision was made initially. Over the 6 months Opel was up for sell, GM’s position changed.

      GM’s plan is essentially the same plan Magna was going to use. The union doesn’t like that idea now, but was ok with it then. The saga continues.

  • avatar
    wmba

    “Franz added that another obstacle is whether GM would agree to reduce the 5% royalty Opel pays its parent company for every car sold”

    This was mentioned about six weeks ago. If GM hasn’t stopped nicking Opel for the 5%, then the Magna deal was indeed different. Plus Magna wanted to expand Opel’s markets, while GM wants them to labor away in the trenches in Europe.

    Sure, Magna’s ideas might have been pie-in-the-sky to some extent, but the GM idea that Opel will have to forever merely compete in local markets is what has these labor leaders cheesed off. There is nothing to rally them for a brighter future.

  • avatar
    late_apex

    Steven02 +1

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