In contrast to many other car manufacturers, Opel made a profit in the first half of the year. But now the company is suddenly talking about redundancies for operational reasons. Employee representatives fight back.
AOn Monday, Opel boss Michael Lohscheller celebrated the completely overhauled Insignia flagship and affirmed: “With the new Insignia and the future models that we will be bringing to Rüsselsheim, the plant has a bright future as a location for the production of ultra-modern vehicles But now the management of the car brand is once again causing considerable excitement and unrest among the workforce in Rüsselsheim and elsewhere with the lightning bolt. Because the company is questioning the ongoing protection against redundancies for operational reasons. This protection is stipulated in a collective agreement with IG Metall and was only extended by two years to the end of July 2025 a few months ago.
In view of this, the workforce said: “Opel now wants to push people out of the company with pressure.” According to the statements, the focus is on prototype construction, toolmaking and design. One assessment is that skilled jobs in the company should apparently be “shaved”. In addition, Opel had announced weeks ago that, in addition to the forge, it also wanted to close the transmission plant in Rüsselsheim. There is also talk of the sale of other properties, including the Adam-Opel-Haus company headquarters. A sale-and-lease-back procedure is being discussed for the building, as it is called. An owner sells a building and partly takes it back by lease purchase.
Only 500 of the hoped-for 2100 volunteers
Opel and its British sister brand Vauxhall contributed a good 110 million euros in operating profit to the PSA result in the first six months of 2020 despite Corona. However, only a good 266,000 cars of the two brands were sold in the half-year, the decline in sales of 53.1 percent was much more pronounced than for the other group brands.
Opel nevertheless refers to the pressure due to the general economic situation as a result of the corona pandemic and an apparently sluggish so-called volunteer program to cut jobs, with which the German subsidiary of the Peugeot parent PSA wants to permanently reduce costs. Opel wants to get rid of 2,100 more employees in this way after thousands of employees have already left the company or concluded a corresponding agreement. So far, “a total of only 500 colleagues have decided on partial retirement, senior leave or severance pay. We are thus far from the required number of employees leaving, ”explained a company spokesman.
“Assess the situation at the end of November”
The management therefore spoke this week before the arbitration board, a kind of arbitrator, with the works council and IG Metall about how the volunteer program should be implemented. A working group should quickly develop further ideas. “If we do not achieve this goal through voluntary measures, we will review the future collective agreement, in particular the obligation to secure employment. The situation will be assessed at the end of November. Based on this, the implementation of redundancies for operational reasons would also be examined, ”explained the spokesman.