Gm Launches Crisis Plan

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TEN THOUSAND Opel and Vauxhall sackings were announced by General Motors Europe Chief Executive David N (Nick) Reilly and Executive Director Reinald Hoben, yesterday.

They confirmed the closure of the Antwerp plant and warned that there is no production planned for the Vauxhall plant in Luton, Bedfordshire beyond 2012.

Reilly said: ‘The auditors report supports our analysis and conclusions. Unfortunately, this analysis also forces us to take additional steps that are most difficult as they involve our own people . . . .

‘After an extended period of carefully weighing up our options we had to conclude that we had to adjust our capacities by approximately 20 per cent and we expect that around 8,300 jobs will be directly affected by this restructuring and we will have to re-tool and reorganise our plants.’

Hoben said: ‘At Opel-Vauxhall, we have reacted fast to the market decline with various short-term measures such as short-work, working time reductions and insourcing.

‘However,’ he said, pointing to a future of speed-ups and conditions cuts, ‘it will not be enough. We as a company must lower our break-even point and further reduce our structure cost to enable us to be profitable again.

‘To adjust to the current and forecast market environment, we believe we must reduce our capacity by approximately 20 per cent . . . . Under our plan this capacity adjustment translates into a workforce reduction of around 8,300 people.

‘This has been one of the toughest issues for management to contemplate, but we are obliged to secure the financial health and the future of our company and to protect the vast majority of jobs at Opel-Vauxhall.

‘Our plan foresees that the reductions will be spread out across most of Europe and will include about 6,900 employees in manufacturing, 1,300 in sales and other administrative areas, and 162 in manufacturing-engineering.

‘Our product engineering centre will not be impacted by the restructuring.

‘Please keep in mind that we are in discussions with our employee representatives both on a European and local level. Some numbers will have to be rounded and you may see some minor adjustments.

‘This is due to our needs in manufacturing to have some degree of built-in flexibility.

‘Let me now go into some detail. Our initiatives include the intent to close our Belgian production facility in Antwerp as previously announced. As Nick said, this early announcement is in no way a reflection of the professionalism of the Antwerp workforce.

‘The truth is as sad as it is simple. The intent to shut down the plant is solely due to the unfortunate reality of the current business environment. We know how hard this is on the employees and we will work with employee representatives, local authorities and the government to ease the transition for the workers and their families . . . .

‘Ellesmere Port will continue to produce the new Astra five-door hatchback. We will add a third shift next year to help meet demand when we introduce the Astra sportswagon . . . .

‘Luton will continue with production of its current Vivaro until the end of the life-cycle in calendar year 2013. We are investigating the business opportunities for that plant thereafter . . .

‘Our restructuring plan of course not only will rely solely on adjusting our capacity. It includes efficiency measures and other organisational changes.’

He concluded by revealing that the jobs cull is not 8,300 but in fact around 10,000: ‘Let me briefly clarify some numbers that have been discussed lately in public.

‘When we talk about our restructuring plan with a targeted reduction of approximately 8,300 jobs, we always refer to the initiatives and measures which we have planned to reduce our break-even point and return to profitability over the next two years.

‘We also have some 2,000 people who have signed up for a part-time retirement programme in Germany some time ago and who will be leaving us throughout in 2012 and 2013.

Reilly concluded by urging the union leaderships to continue to co-operate with the jobs cull.