Opel Labor Leader: Abandoning Opel Means Abandoning Europe

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
opel labor leader abandoning opel means abandoning europe

Opel’s German unions want a deal with management before Christmas, Opel works council Chairman Wolfgang Schaefer-Klug told Reuters in an interview. Here the cliff notes:

  • Does not believe in Ford-style closures, expects the cuts to be “far milder.”
  • Says Opel management is not looking to close any other German plant than Bochum.
  • Offers to shorten work week to cushion downturn.
  • Mokka should be built in Europe regardless of Korean impact.
  • Says GM board members that see Opel as dead weight are not in majority.
  • Says if GM gives up Opel, it will give up Europe.
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9 of 12 comments
  • Oelmotor Oelmotor on Nov 13, 2012

    Abandoning Opel Means Abandoning Europe...” I agree with this remark, because Chevrolet will not fill the void in Europe if Opel goes under.

    • See 1 previous
    • Carfriend313 Carfriend313 on Nov 14, 2012

      @John Rosevear I'm not sure it could be done. And if it were to happen, it would be a lot more expensive than shouldering Opel losses for the foreseeable future. Chevrolet would need to take on a model line comparable to Opel for a start, and I don't know how it would overcome the name/image.

  • Alluster Alluster on Nov 13, 2012

    GM is not going to abandon Opel. They are making steady progress and expect to break even by mid decade. GM's top management has made it their biggest priority to fix opel. Progress would happen much faster if only the labor unions stopped living in fantasy land. Bochum closed by 2016 Shift reductions and product consolidations happening elsewhere. 2300 jobs already cut so far in 2012 and 300 more by years end, netting a fixed cost savings of $300 million in 2012 and $500 million in 2013. Opel has reduced inventory by 100,000 since Feb. Cut sales to low cost rental companies. Already boosted per-vehicle revenue in Europe by nearly $650 through repackaging options to attract buyers to higher-price models. 23 new models and 16 new engines by 2016 The Opel Mokka is a huge hit with 45,000 pre-orders GM is also looking to buy Ally Financial's EU operations for $4B. This will allow Opel buyers easy access to credit. Alliance with PSA to save a combined $2B in costs by 2015. It doesn't seem like GM will abandon Opel unless the labor leaders torpedo any attempts of a recovery. The labor unions seem to get it. Looks like they have accepted the closure of Bochum Assembly and have agreed to shift reductions at Eisenach. Mr Girsky and Ackerson are very capable businessmen and I have trust in their leadership to get Opel out this mess.

    • Rnc Rnc on Nov 14, 2012

      They been going to turn around Opel since the late 70's. And in terms of getting Opel out of thier mess, I would love to see GM's worldwide consolidated balance sheet, (not the ones shown to the public, the one's the public never see's, with the actualarial stuff and all) the fact that GM just had $30 billion in debt washed away and yet Ford is the one aggressivly addressing Europe when they were already an order of magnitude healthier anyways. And making more profits w/o a major china presence and significant interest payments. There's a big $ skelaton somewhere in the closet and China sales won't fix it, they make numbers look good, but something big and expensive is coming in GM's future and I'm not sure they know how to deal with it right now (remember pension math allows you to deny reality, in GM's case it could be $20-$30 billion worth of denial), where once again GM is still living off imaginary returns and Ford is starting to finance thier pension obligations with free cash flow and investment grade bonds.

  • CJinSD CJinSD on Nov 13, 2012

    GM has been selling Daewoos as Chevrolets for years. I see no reason for them not to sell Daewoos as Opels as well.

  • Haudit Haudit on Nov 14, 2012

    Opel has many problems, that can't be argued. However, at the moment, their products aren't one of them, so ditching Opel in favour of rebranding the less competitive, less well regarded Chevrolet line up would prove troublesome. Chevrolet still has something of an image problem in Europe stemming from the first European Chevrolet products being nothing more than rebadged Daewoos (Matiz, Aveo, Lacetti, Tacuma) which were, at absolute best, no more than marginally competitive in their respective segments. This perception has begun to change recently with considerably improved products like the Cruze and Orlando, but they're still not seen as good enough to mix with the big boys, and they're still capable of producing completely uncompetitive rubbish like the Spark.

    • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Nov 14, 2012

      I would be interested to know more about who Opels customers are, say 2010 to present. What are their backgrounds, lifestyles and automotive needs/desires... and most importantly why Opel over a comparable Peugeot/Volkswagen/Seat/Skoda etc.