Angry General Motors workers at the Opel plant in Bochum in Germany have been refusing to go back to work as talks got underway between GM management and union representatives on the carmaker’s plan to get rid of 12,000 jobs in Europe. The workers have defied calls from union leaders and the German government to end their strike. An official from the IG Metall union was circumspect about the protest. Standing in front of the Bochum plant he said: “We’re backing the workers here and completely supporting them, but I want to stress that negotiations with the management are underway and we are hopeful of a positive outcome from those talks.”
GM’s problem is that factories elsewhere in Germany as well as in Britain, Belgium and Poland could soon start to run out of parts if the strike continues. One worker said: “We’ll stay here and continue our fight until GM breaks down and says it is not going ahead with these layoffs.” The workers estimate the strike – which began last Thursday – is costing GM between 10 and 30 million euros a day and they have said they will only go back to work if the company promised there will be no forced layoffs. GM – which has not made a profit in Europe since 1999 – has said it must save 500 million euros a year which is why it is trying to cut its workforce by a fifth.