Opel works councils openly criticize management | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 19.03.2012
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Opel works councils openly criticize management

Workers at Opel have demanded that the management drop its silence about future restructuring plans in the company and possible closures of facilities in Europe as the carmaker continues to be deeply in the red.

Against the backdrop of continued speculation about facility closures and possible layoffs, carmaker Opel's European works councils on Monday heavily criticized Opel's and GM's management for not sharing information on the company's restructuring plans.

In a joint declaration of works councils, employees' representatives maintained that the management was playing off Opel production facilities against each other by exerting massive pressure on individual works councils at European locations.

Opel's European Employee Forum (EEF) led by Works Council Chief Wolfgang Schäfer-Klug called on Opel and GM to finally agree to open and unconditional talks with employers about the future of the struggling auto maker.

"Opel and GM are currently refusing to hold such talks," the EEF complained in its declaration.

Problems unlikely to disappear soon

Opel has posted considerable losses for many years now, and CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke has announced it'll take a while, before the company will enter positive territory again. Owing to a marked decline in demand in debt-stricken southern Europe, Opel's profitability problems are set to increase further in the current year.

Opel workers, including staff at Bochum, Germany, have been fearing more closures and a reduction of employees as a result of poor performance levels, but have largely been left in the dark about future developments by management.

The EEF's declaration emphasizes that unabated speculation about Opel's fortunes would put off potential customers and exacerbate the situation even further.

Opel's works councils demanded that GM - as its US-based parent company - give up its resistance to letting the subsidiary sell cars outside Europe. "Only that way will it be possible to offset the declines in European sales," the declaration said.

hg/ng (Reuters, dpa)