Opel and the Labor Union Closed Agreement to Stop Production at Two Plants image

Opel and the labor representatives agreed to cut working hours at two of the company’s German plants.

Between September and November Opel will stop production at the Ruesselsheim and Kaiserslautern plants for 20 days. After the automaker lost $747 million in 2011 on its European operations, Opel sees no other possibility to reduce costs but to cut working hours.

“The European automobile market is declining dramatically,” Opel’s head of personnel, Holger Kimmes, said in a statement.

Opel has 16,500 employees at the two plants, and the agreement will affect both workers on the production line and in the administration. With the approval from the labor union IG Metall and the works’ council, Opel can apply for the German government subsidies offered through a short-work program, called “Kurzarbeit”. The program was applied in the 2008-2009 recession to many struggling companies, offering them the possibility to keep their workers by cutting the working hours when the demand was low, the government compensating employees for part of their lost wages.

GM added last week an 8.15-megawatt solar array on the rooftop of the Opel Russelsheim plant, in an attempt to double its global solar output. The array is one of the largest in Europe and is equivalent to 32 soccer fields. It will generate 7.3 million kW hours from sunlight, which means a reduction of 3,150 tons of CO2 annually.