* Bochum car plant to be closed before end of 2016
* Deal should extend blanket job guarantees by 2 years
* Talks could be concluded Thursday, maybe another day
By Jan Schwartz and Christiaan Hetzner
HAMBURG/FRANKFURT, Feb 28 German union IG Metall
expects to strike a deal this week with General Motors Co's
Opel unit over the restructuring of the carmaker's German
"We are just about to reach an agreement," said a spokesman
for IG Metall on Thursday.
The negotiations, which started in June and were supposed to
complete by the end of October, could be concluded on Thursday
but may need an extra day, according to the union spokesman.
Opel could not be reached immediately for comment.
The deal is expected to extend job guarantees by another two
years to 2016 for all four German plants, which together employ
around 20,000 workers.
At the start of 2017 at the latest, however, assembly lines
at the Bochum car plant will cease running and only some
components and warehousing jobs will remain under the deal.
A union source involved in the negotiations told Reuters
labour leaders were not willing to agree on further wage
concessions and job cuts in Bochum.
Workers fear GM wants to "hollow out" Opel, where labour has
had certain rights under German law ever since it became a joint
stock company in 2010.
Operating assets outside of Germany once owned by the
company were being successively regrouped directly under parent
GM, triggering union suspicions that Detroit wanted to undermine
union influence in product, investment and strategy decisions.
Unions want to avoid further decisions such as the one taken
a year ago to build the Opel Antara SUV in South Korea, taken by
parent GM above the heads of Opel management and its supervisory
board, in which unions have a seat at the table.
GM's second-largest brand behind only Chevrolet, Opel has
lost billions in recent years as Europe's car market has plumbed
near 20 year lows, despite repeated bouts of job cuts that
included closing a car plant in Belgium at the end of 2010.