Upon the urging of their local union leader Rainer Einenkel, workers at Opel’s plant in Bochum, Germany, voted overwhelmingly against Opel’s compromise deal that would have kept the plant operating until 2016. The plant was originally scheduled to be closed at the end of 2014. Upon receiving the news of the workers’ vote, Opel responded by saying all concessions were off-the-table, and that the plant would close by its originally-scheduled 2014 closure date, according to Reuters.
Einenkel had originally told the workers that they would be in a stronger negotiating position if they were to reject Opel’s compromise deal. But analysts are hailing General Motors’ and Opel’s resolve in sticking to its originally-scheduled closing of the plant, as record-low auto sales in Europe have left many automakers and Opel especially with an excess of production capacity. GM’s losses in Europe totaled $1.8 billion in 2012, marking the 13th consecutive year of losses for GM’s troubled German unit.
Even some Opel-branded models are being made outside of Germany and Europe, with the Opel Mokka compact crossover, similar to the recently-introduced Buick Encore, is made in South Korea, along with the Encore. Initially, plans were to build the Mokka at GM’s plant in Antwerp, Belgium.
Opel’s Bochum plant builds the Opel Zafira minivan. Einenkel’s rationale in rejecting the compromise proposal is that the Zafira is in the middle of its model cycle, which would not run out until 2016, and that GM would not switch the manufacturing source on the model in the middle of its life cycle. But even demand for the once-popular Zafira has dropped off, with the Bochum plant being idled until April 3 on low demand.