The spectre of wide ranging job cuts is looming at the German car giant Opel as politicians and its American owner General Motors struggle to work out a rescue package.Opel has been hit by a massive fall in European sales, and its parent company has yet to find a way of stemming losses. Now a leading German magazine is reporting a question mark hangs over three Opel plants – Anvers in Belgium, and Bochum and Eisenach in Germany. Kaiserslauten and Russelsheim also in Germany look likely to be saved . The German government says it is willing to help out but has stopped short of saying it will inject cash directly into the company. Chancellor Angela Merkel has told her party that Opel is not crucial to the German economy. She said: “We will help if the benefit for all is greater than the damage caused by failing. We are not yet at this point. The rescue plan must be improved and clarified.” Opel cars are at the heart of Germany’s motor industry and an iconic symbol of German pride. At the Opel car supporters club in Essen its chairman is worried Opel could go under. He said: “Opel is a car that has been made here in the Ruhr area of Germany since after the war. So our parents have grown up with it. We grew up with it. For us it is THE car to own.” Opel employs 55,000 in Europe and there is speculation 20 per cent of staff could ultimately be laid off.