This week, Opel will embark on a pan-European begging tour. Applications for government aid will be sent to Germany’s central government, Germany’s states with Opel plants, and to the European countries where Opel has a presence. A business plan, and an expert opinion from the little known CPA firm Warth & Klein will complete the package, writes Das Autohaus. Target of the funds drive are €2.7b. Opel management still counts on wage concessions of €265m per year over five years (a total of €1.3b). Unions and the Opel Works Council already have said “nein” to the concessions. Governments want to see the paperwork first,
Not surprisingly, the decision to close Antwerp is not sitting too well with Opel’s European Works Council. Their reply: Forget the wage concessions you wanted from us, and which are so critical for Opel’s survival.
Management at Opel wanted employees to contribute €265m annually to the cause. The unions were ready to deal, but wanted shares. Reilly reneged on the shares, which raised union hackles. Now, the offer is off the table. And with it, an essential piece of Opel’s future.
To have a chance of succeeding with its Opel turnaround, GM needs two things: Financial support from the European governments to the tune of €2.6b. And concessions by Opel workers worth €265m a year. GM itself doesn’t have more than $600m to contribute. Not the best bargaining position.
Chances of government support are getting slimmer as time goes on. Now, Opel labor representatives flat out refuse any support if GM sticks to its turn-around plan for Opel. It is “totally unacceptable” said Opel labor leader Klaus Franz. “A reduction of 9,000 jobs in Europe is out of the question,” Franz said to the Frankfurter Rundschau.
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