Opel prepares Bochum plant closure – magazine image

According to a German magazine, a labour representative at General Motors’ Opel unit would present evidence at an assembly today that the automaker has been secretly preparing for the closure of its Bochum plant.

Opel’s Chief Executive Karl-Friedrich Stracke is due to address Bochum workers today over GM’s efforts to return its European operations to profit after more than a decade of losses.

Stracke told an assembly of workers at the factory in Bochum that he planned to stick with a labour agreement valid through 2014 and had not made any decision yet on what will happen after that.

State premier Hannelore Kraft who led the Social Democrats to victory in an election this month, had earlier called on him to make a clear statement on his plans.

A decision to close the Bochum plant would be one of the most dramatic so far as Europe’s carmakers look to restructure in response to more than four years of declines in demand and profits.
There is concern that Bochum is at risk after Opel’s decision last week to pull production of its top-selling model, the Astra compact car, from Germany.

The company’s global profits hit a record last year at $7.6 billion, but its stock, 27% of which is still held by the U.S. government, continues to languish in large part due to the problems in Europe.

GM lost $256 million in Europe in the first quarter of this year, $747 million in 2011 and more than $14 billion since 1999.