GM Europe unions seek spin-off of Opel, Saab

A traffic light is seen in front of the headquarters of General Motors' German unit Adam Opel AG in Ruesselsheim near Frankfurt March 4, 2005. REUTERS/Alex Grimm

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - General Motors Corp's GM.N European labor leaders called on Monday for a spin-off of the Opel/Vauxhall brand rather than face what they called potentially fatal cost-cutting in Europe by the stricken U.S. carmaker.

“The spin-off of Opel/Vauxhall ... and the spin-off of (Swedish brand) Saab is the only reasonable and feasible option for General Motors which would not destroy the European operations and its European assets and could avoid lawsuits,” a statement on the labor force’s website said.

GM, recipient of a bailout from Washington, has a Tuesday deadline to present a plan to the U.S. government on how it plans to remain viable.

The workers’ statement, signed by the heads of the company’s European Employee Forum, said GM management had show main elements of the plan called Project Renaissance to selected analysts last week.

“The current plan could include for the Opel/Vauxhall brand and the GM/Opel/Vauxhall subsidiaries mass dismissals and probably several plant closures. This would have disastrous consequences for the GM brands and companies in Europe and will finish them off,” the statement said.

“Moreover, the plan is not viable taking in consideration the needed loans guaranteed by European governments and the existing legally binding contracts on the European and national level.”

The statement did not make clear whether European labor representatives had actually seen the plan and the labor leaders were not immediately available for comment.

Reporting by Angelika Grueber and Christiaan Hetzner; Editing by David Holmes