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Business

GM Protests Spread Across Europe

Tens of thousands of General Motors workers across Europe were set to stop working on Tuesday in a sign of solidarity with their German colleagues, who face massive job cuts.

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Thousands are expected to demonstrate on Tuesday

As workers at car maker Opel laid down tools for the sixth straight day on Tuesday in protest against job cuts by US parent General Motors, management said it hoped to reach a "joint solution" with unions to safeguard the group's German manufacturing facilities.

Both management and unions were seeking a "joint solution for making the Rüsselsheim and Bochum factories so competitive that they can be retained as car manufacturing plants beyond 2010," Opel said in a statement.

Germany bears the brunt

On Oct. 14, General Motors said it planned to slash 12,000 jobs in Europe -- or around one fifth of its workforce in the region -- in an attempt to steer its European operations back into profit after six years of losses.

Most of the cuts are to be made in Germany, with the plants in Bochum and in Rüsselsheim in the main line of fire and possibly even under the threat of closure.

Signs of Solidarity

Tens of thousands of other workers at General Motors' other European sites were scheduled to stage rallies and demonstrations throughout the day in protest against the US auto giant's radical cost-cutting plans.

Meanwhile, braving the cold and the rain, night-shift workers remained outside the factory gates in Bochum and workers coming in for the morning shift were expected to join them to a rally of nearly 10,000 employees later in the day.

A small group of workers from luxury sports car maker Porsche also arrived in Bochum as a sign of solidarity with their colleagues at Opel.

Production at both Opel's main factory in Rüsselsheim, near Frankfurt, was also to be halted temporarily on Tuesday and some 2,500 workers were similarly expected to lay down tools at the factory in Kaiserslautern. Workers at factories operated by General Motors in Britain, where 400 jobs are to be cut, were also set to down tools briefly. Meetings were to be held at Opel's Polish factory in Gliwice and Spanish plant in Zaragoza but no work stoppages were expected.

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