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GM: 9,000 Opel jobs to be lost


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GM: 9,000 Opel jobs to be lost

Detroit News staff and wire reports / Associated Press

General Motors Co. expects to cut around 9,000 jobs at Adam Opel GmbH, or nearly 20 percent of the ailing German carmaker's work force, as part of a $5 billion restructuring, a top executive said Wednesday.

Nick Reilly, the head of GM's international operations and interim CEO of Opel and its British sister brand Vauxhall, outlined the planned cuts, which were slightly fewer than anticipated, but said no decisions had been reached regarding plant closures.

"The competition is intense and getting fiercer every day. We have to reduce our costs," Reilly said after meeting with Opel's European labor representatives in Rüsselsheim.

Opel-Vauxhall's capacity needs to be reduced by around 20 percent, Reilly said. "That could mean a reduction of approximately 9,000 jobs in Europe."

He said GM and the European Employee Forum had agreed to form a working group to discuss prospects for Opel's plant in Antwerp, whose future he described as "uncertain."

"We have agreed to consider and consult on alternatives for that plant," Reilly said. GM hopes to conclude the restructuring talks with Opel's unions and other stakeholders by the end of the year, he added.

This month, the U.S. automaker reversed an earlier decision to sell a controlling stake in Opel, which plays a key role in its global vehicle development process.

But GM also has to decide now what to do with Saab Automobile after a deal to sell the Swedish carmaker fell through this week.

GM is appealing for help from European governments to pay for the Opel restructuring, which will cost around 3.3 billion euros, or $5 billion.

"We do expect some contributions from employees, and we are hopeful that we will get some funding help from governments," Reilly said. "We have also said that GM can and will put some money in, as well."

In talks this week with European Union officials, he stressed that offers of government aid would not influence where GM would cut jobs and close plants.

Speaking with reporters in Rüsselsheim, a small town near Frankfurt where Opel has its headquarters, Reilly declined to say where jobs would be eliminated but said "probably between 50 and 60 percent" of the cuts would be in Germany. About 25,000 people, or slightly more than half of Opel's 45,000 employees, are in Germany.

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