A U-turn by General Motors over the sale of Opel – which includes Vauxhall in the UK – has been met with hostility and anger in Germany.
GM first said in March that it wanted to offload Opel when the American car giant entered a period of bankruptcy protection. After months of talks, GM agreed to sell the brands to Canadian car parts manufacturer Magna. The German government pledged 3bn euros in loan guarantees on top of an existing bridging loan. Opel employs a total of 54,000 workers all over Europe, 5,500 of them in the UK at plants in Luton and Ellesmere Port. Some 25,000 workers are employed at four German factories. No-one is confident of keeping their jobs. One factory worker said: “I really don’t know where we stand now. I came to work and I don’t know whether I’m with GM or OPEL or what? Let us wait and see.” “It’s very depressing. We can’t make any plans, we don’t know how things will go on,” said another. “We’ve been hoodwinked. Let’s see what we can do. We must fight, and not ask questions, let’s do it the French way, all out and make a fire,” added another man. In Eisenach in the former East Germany, residents fear the closure of the factory there would spell disaster for the town. “Politics is a whore, I say, a whore. Something like this has never happened before,” said one angry female householder. Only in Britain has the news of the decision been well-received. UK unions say they are prepared to talk to GM about restructuring if needs be.