Opel Staff Fight for Control from GM

Joshua Duval
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2009 Opel Insignia

Reuters reports that workers at Opel, a European subsidiary of GM, are seeking a stake in the company. According to internal documents from the IG Metall engineering sector union, the Opel staff is willing to agree to $750 million in labor cost savings if management can obtain part ownership of the company.

The union has told GM that the plan hinges on separating flows of finance between GM's European business and GM. The documents cited the danger of Opel staff concessions "disappearing in the big GM pot" being "too great".

Opel, which, together with Vauxhall, forms the basis of GM Europe's operations, was purchased by GM in 1929. The 2009 Opel Insignia was recently announced Car of The Year in Europe-the first time in 22 years for a GM vehicle. Several Saturn vehicles are derived from Opel, including the Aura sedan and Astra hatchback. The next generation Aura is expected to be based off the new Insignia.

The document also quoted GM Europe's labor leader, Klaus Franz, as confirming the plan for Opel workers to obtain stocks. "We detect a certain defensiveness. GM likes to give its managers shares, but giving stock to employees is seen as a hostile takeover in the GM world," Franz said. With GM's future up in the air, who can blame Opel's employees for trying to take matters into their own hands?

Source: Reuters

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