Thousands Protest GM's European Job Cuts

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Oct 20, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Thousands protest at GM job cuts

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    Bochum residents rallied alongside the strikers

    Tens of thousands of General Motors employees in Europe are taking part in protests at the auto company's plans to cut 12,000 jobs. Workers at the Opel unit in Bochum in Germany walked out for a sixth day on Tuesday, while protests are underway at other GM plants in Europe.

    Workers at GM plants in Britain - where 400 jobs are to be cut - are also expected to suspend operations briefly.

    GM has started negotiating with unions over the job cuts.

    GM 'determined'

    Unions have demanded no plant closures and no redundancies.

    But GM Europe, having failed to make a profit in the last four years, wants to cut costs at the division by as much as 500m euros ($623.8m; £347m).


    The German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said that GM is determined to press ahead with the cost saving measures, despite the threat of widening strike action.

    Opel plant in Ruesselsheim, Germany, has stopped production due to a parts shortage and to workers participating in the Europe-wide protests, an Opel spokeswoman said.

    Some 2,500 workers are expected to lay down tools at the factory in Kaiserslautern.

    GM said 20-minute breaks were being organised at a factory in Antwerp so workers could attend "information rallies".

    Poland's Solidarity union declared a day of solidarity without any stoppages at the Opel factory in Poland.

    Meanwhile, at least 10,000 people are expected to attend a rally in protest at the job cuts in Bochum.

    UK support

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    GM is determined to press ahead with the cuts

    Vauxhall supporters in the UK are also lending their support, but cannot walk out or strike without a ballot.

    "We wouldn't be able to walk out in the way our European colleagues are doing but mass meetings are taking place," Claire Ainsley of the Transport and General Workers' Union told BBC News Online.

    "We want to send a message of support to our European colleagues, particularly those in Germany, who face most of the job cuts."

    Vauxhall workers have been told there will probably be more than 400 jobs cut in the UK - 340 at the Ellsemere Port plant in Merseyside and 94 at the van factory in Luton.

    The secretary general of the European Metal Workers Federation, Reinhard Kuhlmann, estimated that altogether about 50,000 workers were taking part in the Europe-wide protests.

    'Competitiveness issue'

    Although the firm has not yet said which of its 11 European plants will be affected, GM's German sites appear most vulnerable because of high labour costs.

    Germany has the second-highest labour costs in the world
    , according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

    And of the German facilities, staff at Bochum, which makes Astra and Zafira models, look the most at risk after GM recently said the plant had a "competitiveness issue".

    Opel works council chairman Klaus Franz said at the weekend that he hoped to convince GM that it could bail out Opel without resorting to layoffs.

    Mr Franz also warned that any ongoing stoppage at Bochum could affect GM's other European facilities, because of the plant's production of some key parts for other GM vehicles.

    GM Europe lost $161m in the first half of 2004, up from $68m one year earlier, according to the latest figures.

    "A company that has been losing money for so long needs to do something," Marla Mckay, sales manager at Berlin-based Opel Hetzer, told BBC World Business Report.

    "There are so many companies that are having to let go of employees in Germany. It really fits into a trend."


    GM Europe currently employs 64,000 people in total, making the Opel, Vauxhall and Saab brands.

    GM Europe

    Brands: Saab, Vauxhall, Opel
    Sales: 1.8m vehicles (2003)
    Employees: 63,000
    Factories: 11 (Germany, Sweden, UK)
    Finances: $161m loss H1 2004

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  2. DK

    DK New Member

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    quite frankly, im far from being a socialist, but it looks to me like the european GM workers have to pay the price for the dumb decisions the management has made over the last 15 years. they ignored consumer taste, they lost market shares and they didnt do fuck about it. its the same with ford of europe.
     

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