* Labour says announcement is setback to restructuring talks
* Bochum plant could see car production halved in January
* Site may lose third shift next year - works council
By Christiaan Hetzner
FRANKFURT, Dec 10 Opel said efforts to try to
rescue its Bochum car plant in Germany had been to no avail and
it still intended to stop vehicle production there in 2016.
"The main reasons are the dramatic declines in the European
car market and the enormous overcapacity in the entire European
auto industry," the unit of U.S. carmaker General Motors
told Bochum's roughly 3,000 workers on Monday.
Whiel the crisis in Europe's auto industry has seen Ford
and Peugeot announce plans this year to each
close a car plant, Opel would be the first carmaker to shutter a
plant in Germany in decades.
Opel said interim chief executive Thomas Sedran told a
closed meeting of Bochum's workforce that management saw no
alternative to the move, which will likely add to the hardships
of the economically depressed Ruhr region.
The planned measures at Bochum, coinciding with the end of
the lifecycle of the Zafira Tourer MPV model, were announced in
mid-June when management and unions agreed to talks over Opel's
German operations, which employ 20,800.
The head of IG Metall's regional chapter in North
Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) said he would continue to fight for
manufacturing jobs in Bochum after 2016.
"Our goal is clear - no one should see the unemployment
agency from the inside," IG Metall NRW boss Knut Giesler said.
"An executive who tells workers that manufacturing will come
to an end, only to then avoid a discussion by leaving through
the emergency exit leaves a devastating impression behind him."
Opel denied Sedran had dodged a debate with staff.
Monday's announcement left in doubt labour's hopes of
reaching a deal this year over the restructuring of Opel's
German operations. "We are further away from negotiating an
agreement than before. A deal is scarcely possible before
Christmas, probably," said a spokesman for IG Metall NRW.
When asked by Reuters if a deal prior to the holidays was
achievable, Opel's top labour leader Wolfgang Schaefer-Klug
said: "We will try".
A working group called "Bochum Prospects 2022" that GM has
helped create should manage to save some jobs at the site,
although they may be with other companies.
"We have the clear intention to secure a significant number
of Opel jobs (in Bochum), in the warehouse and possibly in
component manufacturing," GM vice chairman Steve Girsky in a
About 430 people who work in Bochum's warehousing operations
are employed by a joint venture with GM partner CAT Logistics,
now called Neovia Logistics Services and minority-owned by
An Opel spokesman at its headquarters in Ruesselsheim said
the number could grow to 600 or more after negotiations.
A drop in demand for the Zafira Tourer is already hurting
Bochum. There are talks 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, the local works council said.
An IG Metall committee will now meet in Frankfurt on
Wednesday to discuss how to proceed following the announcement
that Opel management saw no alternative to its plan to end
vehicle production in Bochum in 2016.