50,000 vent angerat GM job cuts

19th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

19 October 2004 , RUESSELSHEIM - General Motors faced massive demonstrations at its sites around Europe on Tuesday with worker representatives reporting a turnout of some 50,000 to protest against the company's massive job reduction plans. At Opel company headquarters in Ruesselsheim, some 20,000 workers turned out for the "action day" demonstrations, with workers council chairman Klaus Franz sharply criticising GM while signalling a readiness to negotiate with the carmaker. "No manager has ever been permi

19 October 2004

RUESSELSHEIM - General Motors faced massive demonstrations at its sites around Europe on Tuesday with worker representatives reporting a turnout of some 50,000 to protest against the company's massive job reduction plans.

At Opel company headquarters in Ruesselsheim, some 20,000 workers turned out for the "action day" demonstrations, with workers council chairman Klaus Franz sharply criticising GM while signalling a readiness to negotiate with the carmaker.

"No manager has ever been permitted to blast away at his own brand the way the GM bosses have at Detroit and Zurich," Franz said, referring to the company's US and European headquarters.

He also blamed GM for the way it unveiled its revamping plans and its leaking of job cut figures in causing the damaging wildcat strikes at the Bochum factory.

But he said the workers were willing to negotiate with the company over the restructuring  plans which GM announced on 14 October.

"We made a small step in the right direction in the negotiations on Monday," Franz said about the first day of talks between Opel management and worker representatives from the Ruesselsheim, Bochum and Kaiserslautern factories over the job reductions.

According to workers council officials, some 50,000 employees at GM's subsidiaries Opel, Vauxhall (Britain) and Saab (Sweden) had turned out for Tuesday's day of demonstrations. In addition, workers at the GM plant in Gliwice staged a solidarity demonstration.

Meanwhile workers at the Bochum factory were in the process of deciding whether to continue a wildcat strike which had made its effects felt in neighbouring Belgium on Tuesday, with an Opel plant in Antwerp preparing a partial shutdown for lack of components.

The Belgian news agency Belga reported that starting at 2 p.m. (1200 GMT) some of the production lines at the Antwerp plant were to be shut down and workers put on shortened labour shifts as a shortage of parts made itself felt from the wildcat strike in Bochum.

Opel officials said that the Bochum strike was also starting to affect work at the Ruesselsheim plant for the same reason.

The developments came five days after GM Europe unveiled its plans to slash 12,000 jobs from its current European work force of 63,000 in a bid to cut costs by EUR 500 million.

Of the total, some 10,000 jobs were to be cut from Opel's 32,000- strong payroll. That figure is to include 4,000 jobs each slashed at the Ruesselsheim and Bochum plants.

The work stoppage at Bochum has drawn criticism from politicians and even some labour officials and reports that Opel management is mulling retaliatory action in the form of outright dismissals of leaders of the Bochum walkout.

In a statement on Tuesday, Opel said that the talks with worker representatives were focused on making "personnel adaptations" which were as socially-compatible as possible. At the same time, both sides wanted to improve the competitiveness of the Ruesselsheim, Bochum and Kaiserslautern sites to assure their existence beyond 2010.

DPA

Subject: German news

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