* Labour says plant closure not final, talks ongoing
* Would be first German car plant to close in decades
* Bochum plant could see car production halved in January
* Bochum may lose third shift next year-works council
By Christiaan Hetzner
FRANKFURT, Dec 10 General Motors Co's
Opel unit came a major step nearer to closing its Bochum plant
in Germany, telling the roughly 3,000 workers it had not changed
its mind about ending vehicle production in 2016.
Opel said it had made rigorous efforts to rescue car
manufacturing at the plant but these had come to nothing. "The
main reasons are the dramatic declines in the European car
market and the enormous overcapacity in the entire European auto
industry," it said in a statement.
Although the crisis in Europe's auto industry has already
prompted Ford and Peugeot to announce this year
plans to each close a passenger car plant, Bochum would be the
first to close in Germany in decades.
Opel interim Chief Executive Thomas Sedran told a meeting of
Bochum's workforce at the RuhrCongress convention centre on
Monday that management saw no alternative to ending car making.
The planned measures at Bochum, coinciding with the end of
the lifecycle of the Zafira Tourer MPV model, were first
announced in mid-June, when management and unions agreed to
negotiations over Opel's German operations that employ 20,800.
Some jobs will still be saved at the site.
"We have the clear intention to secure a significant number
of Opel jobs (in Bochum), in the warehouse and possibly in
component manufacturing," said GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky in
About 430 people are employed in Bochum's warehousing
operations in a joint venture with partner CAT Logistics, now
called Neovia Logistics Services and minority owned by
An Opel spokesman at the brand's headquarters in
Ruesselsheim said this number could grow to 600 or more as a
result of negotiations.
A drop in demand for the Zafira Tourer is already hurting
Bochum, which is in talks with its workers to stop the assembly
line for 10 days in January and cut production by about half.
Next year could also see the loss of the night shift
completely, according to the local works council.
Opel's top labour leader Wolfgang Schaefer-Klug said the
announcement by Sedran did not mean the closure was definite.
"They just told the workforce in Bochum what the initial
starting point of the negotiations is," he told Reuters. "From
my point of view, there is nothing new."