Thousands of Opel workers in Germany have downed tools and staged a protest over GM’s decision to abandon a Russian-backed rescue plan.
GM, the parent company of Opel, has reversed its decision to sell its subsidiary to Magna, a move that had earlier raised hopes that many jobs would be saved. Around half of Opel’s 50,000 staff are in Germany. One protesting worker said: “First of all we want to fight for our jobs. They’ve screwed us and they’ve screwed the German government.” Another worker said: “We want to give a sign that GM must reflect on how they treat us.” GM plans to cut Opel staff by a fifth, saying its European operations faced insolvency if workers didn’t agree to cost cutting. It also wants the countries with Opel plants to contribute to a restructuring plan. Observers say in Britain, home of the Opel sister brand Vauxhall, workers have welcomed GM’s u-turn. Opel workers had only just reached a deal on cost concessions with Magna after months of tense talks. GM says it changed its mind because of improving business conditions and the strategic importance of Opel.