GM Europe will keep all four of its German Opel plants open, interim chief executive Nick Reilly revealed yesterday.
GM issued the following statement: ‘Opel/Vauxhall CEO Nick Reilly gave representatives of the European Employee Forum on Wednesday a first look at the company’s plan to make the Opel and Vauxhall brands again viable and successful.
‘Reilly said that no final decisions have yet been made. The company will soon begin the information-sharing and consultation phase with all stakeholders. We must create a sustainable, viable business plan for Opel/Vauxhall. The competition is intense and getting fiercer every day. We have to reduce our costs,’ Reilly warned.
‘We must fight hard to keep our manufacturing operations in Europe viable. Opel/Vauxhall has to reduce capacity by around 20 per cent. That could mean a reduction of approximately 9,000 jobs in Europe,’ he said.
Company representatives and EEF agreed to form a working group to discuss a future for Antwerp, whose future is ‘uncertain. We will consider all alternatives,’ he said. The Belgian plant employs employs 2,500 workers.
The company agreed to make no unilateral decisions during the information and consultation period, but Reilly added that the company was aiming for closure of the discussion by the years’ end, claiming it is in the best interests of the employees and company alike.
‘We all have the same objective: To create a viable, sustainable company. This is very do-able. I look forward to further cooperation with employee representatives.’
Regarding state aid, Reilly said the restructuring required approximately 3.3 billion euros to help Opel/Vauxhall get through the economic crisis in the ensuing year and to invest in new products and plants so that the company can move forward.
GM will participate in the funding of that amount but the company also counts on support from employees and hopes to receive support from governments as well.
He added that ‘50 to 60 per cent’, of the job cuts, calculated by analysts to be 3,700, will be in Germany.
Reilly gave no details about Opel and Vauxhall plants in the UK, Spain and Poland. Earlier Reilly had met with the governors of the German states where Opel plants are sited.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin on Tuesday that GM had repaid the 1.5bn euros in bridging loans it received from Germany to keep Opel afloat, and that ‘the Opel operation has not cost the German taxpayer a cent’.