Opel, PSA labor leaders to forge union alliance

FRANKFURT Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:54am EDT

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Labor leaders from both General Motors' (GM.N) European unit Opel-Vauxhall and France's PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA) will start efforts next month to forge a strategic alliance that would serve as a counterweight to the two companies and ward off job cuts.

Wolfgang Schaefer-Klug from Opel and Jean-Francois Kondratiuk from PSA along with a handful of their staff are expected to attend a meeting on April 18 that will lay the groundwork for a second, larger meeting at the end of the month where delegates from every plant across Europe will attend.

Ulrich Eckelmann, the general secretary of the European Metalworkers Federation (EMF), will preside over the meeting, which has the ultimate goal of organizing a permanent bulwark that can negotiate with the two companies at eye's level.

"The current strategy of both carmakers is to play their own respective plants off against one other. By creating this alliance, however, they can increase the size of the pitch and expand the competition to include all production sites," said Wolf Jaecklein from the EMF, an umbrella union organization.

"We therefore need to expand our approach beyond the individual companies and jointly defend against this tactic, that's the key," he added.

On Wednesday, PSA signaled a more bleak future for the Spanish plant after suspending indefinitely plans to assemble a new compact vehicle at its Madrid plant [ID:nL6E8EN4T4]

Jaecklein said decisions like these show that the EMF's three constituent Spanish unions are being squeezed from both sides.

"It's the one country where the competition will likely be the worst, since there are two PSA plants and one Opel plant in Spain that can be played off against one another," he explained.

(Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner)

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