Troubled Opel to Cut Jobs at Polish Car Plant

Company moves to two-shift production system

German automaker Opel is to cut 250 jobs at a plant in Poland after it cut back output as the global economic crisis dents demand, its parent, General Motors said March 9.

"Cutting 250 jobs was made necessary after we moved to a two-shift production system," GM Poland spokesman Wojciech Osos was quoted as saying by Poland's PAP news agency. Opel's plant at Gliwice in southern Poland had previously run around the clock, with employees working one of three eight-hour shifts. The cuts are due to come into force at the end of May. At the end of last year, Opel had already cut 250 jobs at its Gliwice plant, reducing its employee count to 2,850.

A total of 13,327 vehicles rolled off the production line in Gliwice in January and February, compared with 37,285 in the same period last year, according to figures from GM Poland.The plant makes Opel's Astra and Zafira models.

Citing falling demand in Western Europe, where the plant exports 90% of its cars, the group had already cut back production in October. It introduced week-long stoppages during which employees were assigned to maintenance work or took training courses.

The German magazine Der Spiegel had on March 7 reported that Opel's management planned to shut three facilities in Europe -- two in Germany and one in Belgium -- and sack 11,000 people, one fifth of its workforce. The aim is to save some $1.2 billion dollars in staff costs, Der Spiegel said. An alternative proposal would be to cut only 3,500 jobs but lower wages across the board, it added.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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