Dueling Development Centers Force GM to Slam the Brakes on Opel Sale
The handover of General Motors’ European operations and creation of a new Opel corporate identity, which was expected later this week, has come to a screeching halt.
As part of the $2.3 billion sale to France’s PSA Group, GM’s longtime German subsidiary will take on the name Opel Automobile GmbH — but not until the two companies clear a big hurdle. It seems the problem comes down to a tale of two development centers: one owned by GM, the other by PSA.
Opel’s Rüsselsheim, Germany development center, which brought American buyers past (and future) Buick Regals, is just one of the assets being handed over to PSA. However, the company’s works council has specific demands for those workers.
According to Automobilwoche, the council, plus German labor union IG Metall, wants to keep a certain number of workers employed at Rüsselsheim, despite the fact that some of the center’s work will overlap with work being performed by PSA’s 13,000 development employees. The union wants a guarantee that 7,700 workers will keep their jobs at the Opel center. As well, it wants work to continue performing work for GM until 2020, which could account for 30 percent of the center’s output.
PSA wants the next-generation Opel Corsa compact to ride atop a PSA platform. However, Opel wants to develop the model’s successor, as well as an SUV based on the Opel Insignia midsize sedan.
Wolfgang Schäfer-Klug, chair of the Opel Works Council, has claimed the issue isn’t disputable. As a result, employee information sessions planned for this week have reportedly been cancelled and the deal has seen its ratification date pushed back. Opel still expects the handover to be completed by the end of this year.
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