RUESSELSHEIM, Germany, - Opel labour leader Klaus Franz said talks with management over an upcoming plan from General Motors for the future of its European unit Opel should be finished by mid-February.
We don't have a large time window, at one and a half months before we have to have everything resolved, he told reporters on Thursday.
Asked if a management plan to halve Opel's expected 2009 loss to just 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) next year was realistic, Franz said: Those are not my numbers but (I assume) they must exclude special effects, referring to charges related to 8,300 planned job cuts in Europe.
Franz said Opel's 2009 loss was 700-900 million euros higher than it might have been had Opel already been restructured due to repeated delays in cutting jobs, a process he said could have begun months ago.
Labour's demands that Opel's Antwerp plant not be closed and that there be no forced layoffs remained in dispute, he said, adding another bone of contention was whether GM would agree to reduce the 5 percent royalty Opel pays for every car sold.
Franz is in talks with GM over offering 265 million euros in wage concessions for the 50,000 employees at Opel and British sister brand Vauxhall.
In exchange, he wants GM to not close Antwerp, trim excess layers of management, and present a sustainable business case for Opel including investment to fill gaps in its model range.
It is a paradox but we as labour representatives demand entrepreneurial thinking, said Franz. (Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner; Editing by Dan Lalor) ($1 = 0.6942 euro)