January 22, 2013 / 10:55 AM / 5 years ago

GM may stop making Opel cars at Bochum as early as 2015

BERLIN (Reuters) - General Motors (GM.N) may halt vehicle production at a German factory of its ailing Opel division sooner than planned as the U.S. carmaker pushes for more cost cuts at the loss-making brand.

General Motors Vice Chairman, interim President of GM Europe and Chairman of the Opel Supervisory Board Steve Girsky poses in front of an Opel Adam car during the start of the car production in Eisenach January 10, 2013. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Talks between Opel management and workers at the carmaker’s German operations since last June have been undertaken on the basis that the Bochum plant would close no sooner than 2016.

A letter by GM Vice Chairman Stephen Girsky to employees on Tuesday, however, reminded workers that the current labor deal only protects the Bochum factory, in western Germany’s industrial heartland, where the Zafira Tourer MPV model is assembled, until January 1, 2015.

“The situation in the entire European (car) market is still catastrophic,” Girsky wrote in the letter. “That’s a difficult precondition for forthcoming negotiations” with German staff.

He said management would not budge from its plans to close the plant and cut some 3,000 jobs there, regardless of proposals to build the next generation Mokka subcompact SUV at Bochum.

Talks between both sides on the future of Opel’s German factories in Bochum, Eisenach, Kaiserslautern and the Ruesselsheim-based headquarters will resume on Tuesday, Girsky said, adding he had called on management to present conclusions in February.

“Our Germany Plan must be completed by then.”

Reporting by Andreas Cremer, additional reporting by Christiaan Hetzner. Editing by Jane Merriman

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