The jobs of more than more than 50,000 European car workers hang in the balance again today after a shock decision by General Motors to go back on a deal to sell Opel, including its UK brand Vauxhall.
After months of negotiations GM had agreed to sell Opel and Vauxhall to Canadian car parts firm Magna. The American giant said it had reversed the decision due to an “improving business environment” for GM in recent months. Opel employs a total of 54,000 people at factories across Europe; in Spain, Belgium, Poland, Sweden Britain and Germany. In the UK the Vauxhall brand employs 5,500 people at two plants in Luton and Ellesmere Port. There are 25,000 Opel car workers based in Germany. At a factory in Bochum, many of the workers arriving for the early shift were dismayed by the news. “It’s not nice. I have no idea what else will be happening here in Bochum if Magna doesn’t take over. There are rumours that Opel in Bochum will be closed now. Let’s wait and see,” said one man. In Britain the main car workers union Unite welcomed what it called the “incredible turn around” and said there will now be negotiations with GM over any restructuring plans.