General Motors Europe, a unit of GM, said on Jan. 12 it had agreed with staff representatives on a plan to reduce the number of hours worked amid a general slump in the auto sector. "Working time reductions, sabbaticals and short work will be partially subsidized by GM according to defined standards," the company said.
The framework accord was aimed at allowing plants "to adjust production capacity in the most cost efficient and socially responsible way," it added.
GM directors will continue to work with employee representatives to find ways of achieving "the necessary overall cost saving objectives."
A separate statement by GM Europe staff unions said "the lasting and dramatic drop in automobile markets forces manufacturers to take exceptional measures." Their statement quoted works committee secretary Klaus Franz as saying the deal "protects staff from drastic financial damage." Workers are to receive aid from both the state and GM Europe.
"With this European accord, we have laid an excellent basis to make decisions quickly on flexibility at German sites," the statement quoted Opel human resources director Holger Kimmes as saying.
GM Europe, which produces Opel, Saab and Vauxhall brand autos, has been hit hard by the sector slump. In 2008, the group saw European sales fall 6.5% to 2.04 million vehicles, including a decline for Opel/Vauxhall models of 10%. Opel was one of the first German car makers to announce large-scale technical layoffs as a result of the economic downturn.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009