Opel union seeks job guarantees for Bochum closure
FRANKFURT (Reuters) -- German trade union IG Metall wants General Motors to guarantee no Opel employee at the Bochum car plant will join the ranks of the unemployed once production ends.
Previously, the union had never openly spoken of accepting a closure of the Opel plant in the Ruhr industrial heartland.
"In order to ensure that workers do not solely bear the risks of restructuring the Bochum site, we must guarantee that no one is unemployed once the manufacturing of the current vehicle ends," the union said on Tuesday. "We demand security for the employees through the end of 2018."
IG Metall's statement acknowledged the dire state of the European auto market that has shrunk to levels not seen since 1995. "The economic situation of the company (Opel) is worse than ever before and has reached a dimension that threatens its existence. Due to a historically low market share, the production plants in Europe are utilized only to 50 percent," the union said.
It warned that no German Opel plant was safe, now that the weakest would be weeded out. "In the short term the colleagues in the Bochum plant are most affected, but in the mid-term no one is secure. No factory has concrete assurances that ensure a sufficient utilization of its capacity even for the mid-term," IG Metall said.
When contacted by Reuters, Bochum's senior labor leader said he would not oppose the catalog of union demands that tacitly agree to a closure of his plant.
"There was a majority in favor, and as a democrat I have to accept it," said Bochum's works council chief Rainer Einenkel, who has fought for the plant to receive a new model when production of the new Zafira Tourer minivan ends in 2016.
He found it "highly unusual" that the union would publish a statement revealing its strategy for reaching a labor deal governing the over 20,000 employees in Germany prior to discussing it in private with management. "I've never seen this happen before, and I have been a union member for 40 years now," he said.Contact Automotive News