German union denies offering concessions to GM over Opel image

The regional boss of German union IG Metall denied holding talks with General Motors over offering wage concessions from German workers at Opel in order to save jobs.

GM wants to restructure Opel in order to return it to profitability. “There are no discussions or negotiations over worker contributions. IG Metall just informed the company that no such negotiations would occur for the foreseeable future,” IG Metall Frankfurt chairman Armin Schild told Reuters on Thursday.

In order to offer individual companies some flexibility in a country where collective wage agreements are in force, managements can strike a separate deal with labor delegates directly elected by their own employees.
These restructuring deals need to be approved by the union’s national leadership, which have to take weigh the needs of the individual company against setting a precedent that could encourage managements at rivals to seek similar deals.

According to an earlier report from Reuters, organised labor was prepared to take a more pragmatic stance under Opel’s incoming labour leader, Wolfgang Schaefer-Klug, and work together hand in hand with Detroit to cut costs. In exchange GM would protect Opel jobs by shifting production of Chevrolets destined for Europe from South Korea to local Opel plants, which would also have the benefit of avoiding currency risk.