Trying to make the best of a nasty situation for everyone involved, Opel has reportedly worked out an agreement with its Works Council and the IG Metall union to reduce working hours at two of its plants. From the end of September until the end of the year, there will be 20 days of short shifts and short working days for two Opel facilities: the Rüsselsheim factory that builds the Insignia and Astra and the Kaiserslautern component plant. About half of the 13,800 Rüsselsheim employees
Opel has stretched the patience of its parent General Motors and the ever-watchful financial markets are gazing upon the loss-making brand with a jaundiced eye. On Thursday, Opel management is expected to put forth a plan that provides a path to shrinking billions of dollars in losses while also increasing productivity. At the same time, the European car market is expected to tumble further throughout 2012.
The United Autoworkers Union is struggling – and it is the first to admit it. With its membership dwindling after three decades of workforce cuts by Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, the union has pinned its future on organizing one of the transplants. Efforts to convince workers at Japanese-owned plants, like the Nissan factory in Smyrna, Tennessee, have fallen on deaf ears in the past, but there's now hope that the UAW might succeed at one of the newer German-owned plants.
First, let's put some salient numbers on the table: 5.5 million versus 2.7 million and $67.14 per hour versus $33.77 per hour.
German wheel manufacturer BBS has declared bankruptcy, and it's not the first time. Back in 2007, BBS was plagued with financial difficulties but Punch International stepped in to provide much-needed capital. The news of a second bankruptcy, which was filed on December 30, apparently came as a shock to the hundreds of employees and even corporate partner IG Metall. The latter was getting ready to put a few million bucks into BBS and rival company Ronal was ready to buy BBS' Herbolzheim factory.
Volkswagen is looking to lengthen their employee's work week, without any additional financial compensation, a cost-cutting move to designed to help stabilize the company's bottom line.
German engineering union IG Metall will start "warning strikes" at DaimlerChrylser, Porsche and Bosch plants in southwestern Germany, beginning March 1. Such token job actions by German unions are often used as a bargaining lever with companies before launching full-blown strikes.