With their jobs on the line, thousands of workers of carmaker Opel have taken to the streets near Frankfurt in Germany to protest against planned closures.
They are demanding parent company General Motors – which today announced record losses -scrap plans to shut down plants across Europe. But staff say the auto industry is so important to Germany that entire communities would suffer if factories are closed. One protester said enough was enough. “It’s good that someone starts fighting back now,” he added. Opel became the first European carmaker of the financial crisis to seek a government bail-out, asking for a billion euros worth of loan guarantees for 2009. With federal elections due in September, it is a big political issue in Germany. Vice Chancellor Frank Walter Steinmeier, who will lead the Social Democrats’ challenge, was a noticable particpant in the rally. He told the crowd: “You are Opel… Opel must live.” He will be running against Chancellor Angela Merkel. She urged Opel’s anxious workers to hold firm, saying the government would assess the company plea for state aid in the coming days.