FRANKFURT, May 11 (Reuters) - Politicians from German states with Opel factories on Friday warned General Motors they would unite to fight job losses resulting from the restructuring of its European operations.
The state premiers of Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Thuringia said in a joint statement GM would face a united front against plant closures in Germany and that GM should let Opel export globally.
GM has said Opel and its British sister brand Vauxhall, which posted a first-quarter loss of $256 million, need to be overhauled, stoking workers’ fears of plant closures.
Opel’s labour leader said a deal with management over cutbacks could be achieved in two to three months.
“We will not let the German sites be divided,” Rhineland-Palatinate state premier Kurt Beck said.
GM previously said Cadillac and Chevrolet would be global brands, “flanked” by Opel and its British sister brand Vauxhall as regional brands.
The four heads of regional states said GM should “no longer call into question Germany as an Opel production site”, but stopped short of making specific threats or offering any aid.
GM infuriated German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government in 2009 when it halted the sale of Opel, deciding instead to keep it, after Berlin had spent months cobbling together a deal and pledging financial guarantees to see through a sale to Canada’s Magna International in a bid to safeguard German jobs.
Workers, which in Germany have considerable sway over strategic decisions at larger companies, have demanded that jobs and plants be preserved.
General Motors has pledged not to close plants before the end of 2014.
The automaker’s alliance with France’s PSA Peugeot Citroen in particular has triggered fears among workers that it would result in job cuts.