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Two European GM plants set to close - report

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Two European GM plants set to close - report
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General Motors’ European division is reportedly planning to close two plants to cut manufacturing capacity by almost a third.

Union sources said the European board will be asked to approve that next week.

The Opel plant in Bochum Germany and Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory in the UK are believed to be the most at risk.

GM is suffering chronic losses in Europe and has overcapacity of half a million vehicles a year.

“We know the main points of the business plan that may be presented next Wednesday, and it foresees plant closures and no growth of the company,” said a union representative on the board. “If it’s put to a vote, then the entire union bloc will vote against this plan.”

A GM spokesman declined to comment on talk of closing plants, but repeated the US automaker’s previous statement that executives are working closely with the unions and works council to improve profits.

Employee delegates cannot block any decision by senior GM executives sitting on the Opel-Vauxhall board, since they lack the majority.

But they warned that should GM executives approve any such plan from Opel’s management on Wednesday, it would ruin efforts to find common ground and turn stalled negotiations into outright war.

The union leader at Ellesmere Port, John Fetherston, argued that closing the company’s last remaining car plant in the UK could severely risk sales in that market. It would leaving Opel’s sister badge Vauxhall, the only English car brand, without any local production.

“There’s no real attempt to open a dialogue over the opportunity to build where we sell – like manufacturing the Chevrolets that are imported into Europe – things that we think will avoid plant closures,” said Fetherston, referring to the union’s preferred solution for unused factory capacity.