"We simply need more time and don’t want to jeopardize a good agreement by putting it under time pressure," said wolfgang schafer-klug, chairman of the works council. The goal is to reach an agreement as soon as possible.
IG metall head berthold huber said: "the aim is to reach an agreement that overcomes the weak phase of the european automotive market and at the same time secures long-term employment at all sites."One sticking point in the dispute: to cut costs and reduce overcapacity, opel management wants to close a plant. But the union and the works council have so far vehemently refused to do so. The number one contender is the bochum site.
However, opel, together with peugeot-citroen, took an important hurdle in the fight against excessive costs on friday. The german federal cartel office gave the go-ahead for the alliance between opel’s parent company general motors (GM) and the french carmaker PSA. "The strategic alliance is accompanied by a certain degree of market concentration," said the president of the federal antitrust agency, andreas mundt.
However, this would not lead to a dominant market position: "in most vehicle segments, other manufacturers sell more vehicles both in germany and in europe."
The struggling manufacturers want to pool their global purchasing and align their production materials. The plan presented in the spring also provides for a seven percent equity investment by GM in peugeot. Only on wednesday, the manufacturers had announced that they would initially jointly develop four vehicle platforms. The first cars should be on the market by the end of 2016. Target is annual savings of two billion dollars (1.5 billion euros) after five years at the latest.
While opel has been negotiating a concept for the future for months, competitor ford has established facts: the manufacturer wants to cut more than 6,000 jobs in europe, especially in genk, belgium, and in great britain, where plants are to be closed completely or in parts.
Opel employees had been aiming for an agreement by the end of october. Until then, the deferral of the 4.3 percent wage increase is temporary. After that, the company had to pay off the workforce in one fell swoop. Around 15 million euros are at stake here.
Under current agreements, the four german opel plants are safe until 2014, until which time redundancies are also ruled out. In june, the company entered negotiations with the offer to extend its commitment by two years – but thereafter, with the phasing out of the current zafira generation, to possibly no longer have any more models coming off the production line in bochum.
In return, cost reductions and a growth concept until 2022 were to be discussed, which, in addition to new models and engines, would also include the production of non-brand models such as chevrolets in the opel plants. Works council and union, on the other hand, demand commitments on locations and employment beyond 2016.
Opel suffers from sales crisis in europe and struggles with expensive overcapacities. The carmaker has been accumulating losses for years and urgently needs to print the costs.