By on March 26, 2012

Last week, Opel’s labor representatives complained that GM does not want to negotiate with them. Now it’s the unions that don’t want to talk. Today, labor representatives  of eight countries sent Opel CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke a letter. The letter consisted of only one sentence, written in eight languages:

“We will not negotiate with you on a local level.”

The tight-lipped missive follows plans by GM management to close the plants in Bochum and Ellesmere Port, and to export jobs to low cost countries. The unions have a different version: GM wants to play the individual sites against each other. According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Opel’s production chief Peter Thom had confronted each site with a catalog of demands. Sites that do not agree to these demands could find themselves out of work.

Jobs and sites are safe through 2014. The unions are not under time pressure. GM however needs to stop the bleeding of money ASAP.

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9 Comments on “Opel Unions Show United Front...”

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    The UAW here calls it “whip-sawing”.

  • avatar

    Not to be nitpicky but shouldn’t it be “in Bochum” instead of “ion Bochum?”

  • avatar

    I don’t blame the unions for trying this, but the end result might be that all of Opel sinks. Then the union(s) can declare victory.

  • avatar

    ‘Stagflation’ is occurring world-wide. Especially among countries who adopt legacy currencies (US$, Euro, et al.)

    The issue with the Euro GM workers is the same as it is for US/Canadian GM workers. They have been severely overpaid for far too long. The only way to recoup this cost would be passing the cost onto the consumer, or to seek a government bailout. Cut and dried.

    ‘The chickens have come home to roost’, so to speak.

    • 0 avatar

      Overpaid based on what? New workers at GM/Chrysler/Ford get paid $15/hour and average benefits – that doesn’t sound overpaid to me.

      Compared to the average chinese worker?

      • 0 avatar


        ‘Overpaid based on what? New workers at GM/Chrysler/Ford get paid $15/hour and average benefits – that doesn’t sound overpaid to me.’: Yes, but it isn’t the ‘new workers’ that GM is trying to get out of paying. It’s the guys who have been there for decades (and associated ‘legacy costs’, pensions, healthcare, etc) that they are trying to ‘weed out’.

        ‘Compared to the average chinese worker?’: This may be RenCen’s bottom line after all. Sad fact is, most corporations are voting with their feet, especially when it comes to labor.

        Manufacturing is not dead in NA, it’s just having to be leaner and meaner. This is an unintended consequence of NAFTA, other free trade agreements and the new world economy. The days of working for the ol’ General or FoMoCo turning a couple bolts for $30/hr for thirty years and collecting a hefty pension and free healthcare at retirement are over i’m afraid…

        I don’t know where everyone’s been the past 20 years, but we are in competition with the rest of the world for labor, especially in manufacturing. China, India, hell even former Eastern Bloc countries are vying for our well paying labor jobs; and while us ‘greedy Americans/Canadians/Euros’ are bitching about how unfair it is, the other ’emerging markets’ know and appreciate how valuable these jobs are for their economies as a whole.

        As the son of a guy who’s hydraulic controls plant was shut down and sent to Brazil back when Clinton was in office, i’m not at all unsympathetic to the guys in the UK/Germany (and everywhere else manufacturing is ‘drying up’) are going through, but i’d recommend to them to suck it up and find another field.

      • 0 avatar

        “This is an unintended consequence of NAFTA, other free trade agreements and the new world economy.”

        No, reduced wages was THE intended consequence of globalization policies. The whole point of NAFTA and other policies was to open up labor competition to low wage markets like Mexico in order to drive down wages in the U.S. and other western economies.

  • avatar

    These problems could all be solved by huge sales increases and higher profits across the board. Failing that, profitability be restored the old fashioned way.

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