Rüsselsheim confrontations

Opel has so far relied on amicable solutions with the workforce when it comes to job cuts, despite all the disapproval. But now the carmaker seems to be on a tough confrontation course.

Once again before difficult negotiations: Opel boss Lohscheller (right) and Rüsselsheim's works council chairman Schäfer-Klug

BSometimes advertisements from companies contain very thoughtful sentences. Like this one: “With the new Insignia and the future models that we will bring to Rüsselsheim, the plant has a bright future ahead of it as a location for the production of ultra-modern vehicles.”

Opel quoted its boss Michael Lohscheller on Monday. The occasion was the presentation of the remodeled flagship. But the central word is “manufacturing”. It goes without saying that Opel will continue to build vehicles at its headquarters in the future. So far, however, Rüsselsheim has stood for much more than that. The central question at the location seems to be whether it will stay that way. This is especially true in the light of the turnaround in dealing with downsizing.

Voluntary farewells from Opel

Despite all the disagreements, Opel has so far relied on amicable solutions with the workforce, but the German subsidiary of the Peugeot parent PSA now seems to be on a tough confrontation course. How else should representatives of IG Metall understand the statement that if no more employees than previously voluntarily turned their backs on the company, a review of the future collective agreement would have to be carried out. “In particular, the obligation to secure employment,” it says.

Opel plans to cut 2,100 jobs, in addition to the thousands that have already been cut. However, this is only possible through offers such as severance payments and partial retirement. In addition, employees are now protected from redundancies for operational reasons not only until the end of July 2023, but two years longer. This is what the collective agreement concluded with IG Metall provides. In addition, employees can opt for a volunteer program by the end of next year. Can, mind you, there can be no question of having to. The fact that the management suddenly announced the end of November this year as a new deadline for assessing the success of the previous offers is not the best way to go.

Contract loyalty is a great asset. If the regional IG Metall boss warned them about this, it would have to be an embarrassment to the executive floor of the profitable car manufacturer. The question arises as to whether the Opel management will build up the pressure or follow the guidelines of PSA. If, in addition to the gear factory and the forge, toolmaking, prototype construction and design are to continue to give up, Rüsselsheim threatens to be just a production plant in the future.