Workers at General Motor’s Opel plant at Bochum in north-west Germany voted on Wednesday to end their unofficial strike which has been going on since Thursday of last week.
A secret ballot ended the stoppage which was in protest at GM’s plans to cut as many as 12,000 jobs in Europe. Negotiations are continuing between General Motors and engineering union IG Metall on cost savings to try to reduce the number of job losses. As they dismantled the picket lines some Opel workers were hopeful. One man said: “I am happy that everything was done in a democratic way. The message is now clear, we must negotiate.” But some were not pleased, one said: “It’s pretty clear they’re planning to get rid of the Bochum plant in four or five years. That’s what I think.” Bochum supplies parts to other GM factories and the strike disrupted production at Opel’s facilities in Ruesselheim in Germany and Antwerp in Belgium and the Vauxhall plant at Ellesmere Port in England. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the German car industry, Porche is taking steps to cope with the weak value of the dollar against the euro. Currently the company has mechanisms in place to cover that cost, through so called hedging contracts, but those run out in 2007, so the plan is to cut costs by not replacing workers who leave and further increasing productivity.