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Opel union pushes to rescue Antwerp plant

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Opel union pushes to rescue Antwerp plant


and Wire Reports

Automotive News Europe -- March 9, 2010 10:01 CET

MUNICH -- General Motors Co.'s European arm Opel is discussing a proposal by labor to rescue a plant in Antwerp, Belgium, that the carmaker had planned to close, an Opel spokesman said on Tuesday.

"We are holding talks, whose outcome is open," the spokesman said.

A source familiar with the situation said the proposal envisaged finding a private investor for the plant, with whom Opel would cooperate, perhaps in making convertible models.

When GM announced its plans for Antwerp plant in late January, Opel CEO Nick Reilly said closure could be completed by June or July, unless an alternative could be found through negotiations with the unions. He added that GM has tried to find an alternative to closing the plant and was unsuccessful.

"You have to face reality. We are losing money and have to do something about it," Reilly said at the time.

Opel's European works council condemned the closure as a "breach of contract" that would trigger millions in unnecessary costs and withdrew its offer to back Reilly's restructuring plan with 265 million euros in annual wage concessions.

The unions are also upset about Reilly's plan to reduce Opel's capacity by a fifth and eliminate 8,300 jobs in Europe.

GM last week tripled its funding commitment for Opel and reduced its request for state aid in a bid to win support from governments and unions.

Reuters contributed to this report

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