Opel sees no alternative to closing Bochum

Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:46pm EST
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By Christiaan Hetzner

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Opel said efforts to try to rescue its Bochum car plant in Germany had been to no avail and it still intended to stop vehicle production there in 2016.

"The main reasons are the dramatic declines in the European car market and the enormous overcapacity in the entire European auto industry," the unit of U.S. carmaker General Motors (GM.N: Quote) told Bochum's roughly 3,000 workers on Monday.

Whiel the crisis in Europe's auto industry has seen Ford (F.N: Quote) and Peugeot (PEUP.PA: Quote) announce plans this year to each close a car plant, Opel would be the first carmaker to shutter a plant in Germany in decades.

Opel said interim chief executive Thomas Sedran told a closed meeting of Bochum's workforce that management saw no alternative to the move, which will likely add to the hardships of the economically depressed Ruhr region.

The planned measures at Bochum, coinciding with the end of the lifecycle of the Zafira Tourer MPV model, were announced in mid-June when management and unions agreed to talks over Opel's German operations, which employ 20,800.

The head of IG Metall's regional chapter in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) said he would continue to fight for manufacturing jobs in Bochum after 2016.

"Our goal is clear - no one should see the unemployment agency from the inside," IG Metall NRW boss Knut Giesler said.

"An executive who tells workers that manufacturing will come to an end, only to then avoid a discussion by leaving through the emergency exit leaves a devastating impression behind him."   Continued...

File picture shows a traffic light in front of the Opel plant in Bochum February 16 , 2012. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender/File