Opel will close Bochum plant early after workers reject deal
A sign says "future for all at Opel Bochum." GM will close the plant next year.
MUNICH -- General Motors Co.'s Opel unit said it will close down its factory in Bochum, Germany, earlier than planned after the plant's employees turned down a deal that would have saved more than a third of the location's jobs.
Opel said production of the factory's sole model, the Zafira Tourer minivan, will run out by the end of 2014. The unit had agreed in February with national union leaders to continue production at the Bochum plant through 2016, and keep part of the facility open as a parts and logistics center, saving about 1,200 of the location's more than 3,000 jobs.
Some 76 percent of employees rejected the offer in a vote with a turnout of nearly 70 percent, the IG Metall union said.
"The vote is clear," said Knut Giesler, the regional head of IG Metall. "I see the results as a clear no-confidence vote for the management of Opel. Too many mistakes, too many false promises for eight years."
Manfred Gellrich, the factory's boss, said in a statement: "A huge opportunity has now been missed. We very much regret that the employees in Bochum did not accept an attractive offer."
GM plans to end vehicle production in Bochum as part of restructuring to cut excess capacity and return the company's money-losing European operations to profit.
GM Europe, which includes Opel and UK-based sister brand Vauxhall, has lost $18 billion since 1999, including a $1.8 billion deficit last year. The automaker aims to return to break-even in Europe by mid-decade through cutting costs and increasing revenue with 23 new or refreshed Opel products by 2016.
Three of GM's German plants have already approved a wider labor agreement that guarantees the jobs of more than 20,000 German workers in exchange for a wage freeze through 2015. Union workers at GM's Ruesselsheim, Kaiserslautern and Dudenhofen factories voted with majorities exceeding 83 percent to accept the reorganization agreement.
Bloomberg contributed to this report
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