German workers are holding ‘warning strikes’ today over General Motors scrapping the sale of GM Europe, which includes Opel and Vauxhall, to Magna.
The GM Board announced after a meeting on Tuesday afternoon it had ‘decided to retain Opel and will initiate a restructuring of its European operations in earnest.’
Workers at the GMM Luton van plant expressed their concerns while Unite leader Tony Woodley welcome the ‘incredible turnaround’.
Chris Stagg, a GM worker at Luton, said: ‘The only person rejoicing is Woodley because he thinks it lets him off the hook.
‘As far as I’m concerned the union have done absolutely nothing except force us to accept over 350 jobs going, a two-year pay freeze and complete flexibility of staff.
‘I’m convinced General Motors will adopt Magna’s strategy and go even further.
‘They are already talking about restructuring GM Europe and that can only mean that they’ll be looking for even bigger savings in terms of jobs and pay.’
He added: ‘More than ever, the workers have to be prepared to defend themselves.
‘If anyone thinks this announcement means peace in our time then they are mistaken.
‘I think that GM’s restructuring plans will build on what Magna and RHJ proposed and that the battle will really begin now and we must get a leadership that will really take on this fight.’
‘Big Jim’, another GM Luton worker, added: ‘Now we are going to be stuck with this GM management who fly in private jets to strike deals, who were in charge when the first collapse happened.
‘The Magna deal also threatened our plant with closure, starting with 354 job losses, and that’s still on the cards. The night shift has already gone.
‘We were expecting the Magna deal to go through.
‘Unite senior reps at our plant called a mass meeting at a moment’s notice, for the last 20 minutes of our shift, during the shift changeover, and basically told us the Magna deal was the only deal on offer and it meant a two-year pay freeze and redundancies.
‘Then they called for a vote to accept it and told us that if we didn’t vote for the deal, the factory would close because there was no other deal in town.
‘Woodley is now trying to convince us with GM remaining in control there could be less job losses and that GM will have to go to all the European governments for some money.’
All Trades Union Alliance National Secretary Dave Wiltshire warned: ‘GM will start the restructuring from the basis of the cuts already agreed by the unions.
‘This means every plant in Europe faces closure and workers must occupy to prevent closures.
‘This requires a new leadership that will defend every job, every condition and pensions.’
Opel unions called for work stoppages across Europe.
Klaus Franz, Adam Opel GmbH works council leader said workers would walk out starting today in brief, ‘warning strikes’.
The Merkel government handed GM a 1.5bn euros bridging loan to secure a Magna deal. German Economy Minister Bruederle said: ‘We will get back taxpayers’ money.’
The European Metalworkers’ Federation (EMF) General Secretary Peter Scherrer said that the safeguards given to GM workers for their future ‘have been swept away by this GM management decision’.
Scherrer added: ‘The workers made concessions with regard to the Opel-Magna deal, but they should no longer be seen as valid.
‘They will have to be fully reconsidered in the light of GM’s new European plans. The workers have made enough sacrifices already.’
• The ATUA is holding a public meeting in Luton to defend all jobs on Sunday November 15