Opel’s Supervisory Board, with half of its members delegates of the labor union, decided today the first closure of a German car factory in decades. According to Reuters, “Opel will end producing Zafira MPVs at its 50-year old Bochum plant by the end of next year, a move that has triggered a rare and public split within union ranks following months of tough negotiations.”
The closure will lead to the loss of 3,000 jobs in Bochum, as part of Opel’s attempt to put an end to 15 straight years of losses in Europe. It will be a while.
In what Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn described as a “historic” event, the automaker has come to an agreement with the three unions representing its French workers that will keep five Renault factories in France running until at least 2016 while using attrition and retirements to reduce their workforce by 7,500 employees.
I have been trying to make heads or tails out of yesterday’s contradicting news about the big deal between Opel and the unions, and so does German media. So much is clear: The truth and GM’s press release about a “successful conclusion” of the negotiations with the Opel works council are miles apart. There is no deal. Unions and Management are still in negotiations, the negotiations will continue this coming week. Then, the workers have to vote. It does not look good: Bochum’s works council is dead set against the deal. It gets worse.
I shall not be moved: Opel union chief Einenkel
Messy, messy, messy: Can’t even close a proper deal with the unions. GM and the unions have an agreement. It is basically as reported this morning. The deal has the signatures of management and unions. One signature is missing, reports Die Welt: That of Bochum works council chief Rainer Einenkel.
If you think that GM will get a handle on its abundant capacity problems in Europe – abandon all hope. Or rather: Postpone hope for until after 2016, or maybe later. Also, write off any expectations that Steve Girksy would successfully play hardball with German Metalworker Unions. Deadball is more likely. With the decision to move the production of Opel’s Astra volume model from Rüsselsheim to Ellesmere Port, and to shift production from Bochum to Rüsselsheim, the fate of the Bochum plant appeared to be sealed.
German unions declared war. Minutes ago, Opel works council chief Wolfgang Schäfer-Klug announced “an armistice” (Das Handelsblatt) and told German media that Opel will continue making cars in Bochum through 2016. Nobody can be fired, no plants can be closed at Opel until January 1, 2017. Even then, Bochum will remain open.
By Thursday, GM wants to have a definite deal with the Opel unions at least that’s the deadline Steve Girsky has set. The parties are further apart than Dems and Reps over the sequester. Steve Girsky wanted the unions to agree that Opel’s toolmaking, prototype building and central production planning will be outsourced, or moved to GM’s plant in Gliwice, Poland , Der Spiegel says. The unions are rightly horrified.
“Dieter Zetsche is lucky that he can stay for three more years,” writes Der Spiegel in Germany. The labor side of Daimler’s Supervisory Board had demanded Dr. Z’s head, the magazine writes. After long debates with Daimler’s Supervisory Board Chairman Manfred Bischoff, a compromise was found.
Titan is the one with the money and the talent to produce tires. What does the crazy union have? It has the French government.
Okay, that’s direct, but it’s not the most direct thing Maurice Taylor said regarding the possibility of investing in a France-based tire manufacturer.
Uh-oh: The price of doing car business in Germany is heading up, increasing pressure especially on Opel. “Germany’s IG Metall union may push a pay claim between 5 and 6.5 percent for about 100,000 workers at VW’s six western German factories” Bernd Osterloh, head of VW’s works council told Reuters today. What does this have to do with Opel, you say?
Germany’s metal worker union IG Metall proposed a new plan yesterday to solve the overcapacity at Opel without undue grief on its members: The union will agree to the closure of Opel’s Bochum plant, if Opel guarantees that no hobs will be lost until 2018. Reuters takes that as a tacit warming up to the inevitable, while demanding the seemingly impossible.
Go get them, tiger!
So far, Steve Girsky, dispatched on a mission impossible to Deutschland to clean up Opel, has been dancing like a butterfly, no stinging involved. Apart from targeted leaks, and an announcement to stop making cars in Opel’s Bochum plant after 2016, which really did not surprise anyone, there were no big dispatches about the heroics of Steve the hatchet man, who was sent to the Old Country to stick it to the socialist metalworker Nazis. Today, and most likely after increasingly impatient prodding from Detroit, Steve took his gloves off, and a swing at some 20,000 unionized workers in Germany.
Articles about right-to-work spawn a lively discussion at TTAC, sometimes with more than 200 comments, interspersed by appeals for selective self censorship. The topic won’t go away. Neither at TTAC, nor in the nation. “Laws that weaken the power of organized labor could spread to more U.S. states in 2013 after supporters of the measures scored a major victory over unions in Michigan this week, and earlier in the year in Indiana,” says a report by Reuters.
President Obama joined the debate about Michigan’s “right-to-work” law. “What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money,” Obama told workers during a visit to the Daimler Detroit Diesel plant in Redford, Michigan. He forgot to mention three important items.
Labor leaders in South Korea are scrambling to convince GM to retain production of the Chevrolet Cruze in South Korea, though GM says that the move to 5 global facilities is a done deal.
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