The future of thousands of jobs in the German car industry are hanging in the balance today.
General Motors stunned everyone by announcing they were trying to raise around 4 billion euros to hold on to Opel, after earlier saying they wanted to sell. They may still sell, and Germany’s Social Democrats are hoping Opel will be handed to Canada’s Magna. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “We prefer the Magna concept because it supports the preservation of Kaiserslautern, Bochum, Eisenach and Ruesselsheim.” The unions though remain concerned. The Head of Opel’s Workers’ Council Klaus Franz said:” We know General Motors have plans that entail Eisenach and Bochum being closed down and for that, there will be no agreement among the workers, neither in Germany, nor in Europe.” General Motors’ lead negotiator John Smith and his team are in Berlin as speculation swirled about reasons for the delay in making a decision whether to keep or sell Opel. The issue is a political hot potato ahead of this month’s German elections. Opel employees had mixed views: One said: “I would say, none of them are able to get it done.” Another said: “I think GM planned from the very beginning never to sell Opel.” And another added: “This tussle does not get us anywhere.” Opel employs about 25,000 people in four major plants in Germany making everything from the three door Corsa to Zafira vans. Opel also has facilities in Poland, Belgium and Spain. Two factories operate in Britain under the Vauxhall badge.