On the 6th of July 2009 a US judge announced a bankruptcy plan for the car giant General Motors.
GM filed for protection on June 1 and in agreeing to plan the judge said it prevented the “the death of the patient on the operating table.”
GM had been sick for a long time it last posted profits in 2004 and since then its been seeking and receiving state aid.
As part of the deal to payback as much as 19 billion dollars to the US government GM launched plans to sell-off its European operations, Vauxhall in the UK and Opel on mainland Europe.
By September, GM announced the sale of Vauxhall and Opel to the Canadian car-parts manufacturer Magna, backed by the Russian Sberbank.
German chancellor Angela Merkel had supported the deal and put German money on the table to ease the move. Opel employs 24,000 workers in Germany.
“ I am glad GM has agreed to sell Opel to Magna in accordance with our agreements and Federal government approval,” she said.
It was immediately announced that 10,500 jobs were to go across Europe.
The unions mobilised in Spain, Belgium and Poland as fears grew that the Germans had done a deal with Magna to save German jobs.
Berlin denies any such move, but when on November the 4th GM decides to keep Opel and drop the Magna deal, the Germans reacted with fury.
Rainer Brüderle is the German finance minister:
“ It’s totally unacceptable, the attitude of General Mortors in respect to Germany is completely unacceptable.”
Now it appears Opel shed 8,300 jobs in Europe. The axe fell on Antwerp on January the 21st with 2,600 jobs to go.
The unions are in uproar and in no mood to accept GM plans for future.
In Belgium the unions are suing the company over breech of contract…The battle lines are now drawn.