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Opel Antwerp: Reilly defends closure of Opel plant

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'We produced around 1.1 million cars in 2009, in good times it was 1.4 million. Even if we close Antwerp, we have we still have a capacity of 1.5 million vehicles, 'said Reilly on Tuesday (January 26th) in Rüsselsheim.

Capacities have to be adjusted

In view of the weak Western European market expected in the next two to three years, capacities would have to be reduced. 'Even if the market picks up, we expand our shares and also expand into other markets, we still have enough leeway in production,' emphasized Reilly.

Although no further plant closings are currently planned. However, the costs would have to be reduced all over Europe to Opel to make it profitable even in a weak market environment. Reilly is aiming for this in 2011. By then, the workforce should be reduced from 48,000 to around 8,000. Further job cuts are not planned: 'We are currently trying to shrink the company to the right size for a market as we expect it to be in 2012,' Reilly emphasized.

He has criticized the unions of the plans for Expecting Antwerp, the Briton underlined: 'But I hope that you will understand that this step is necessary as part of an overall package in order to make us successful.' Last year the carmaker suffered a billion-dollar loss.

Opel employees meet for a crisis meeting

Employees are in the dispute over the planned closure of the Belgian Opel site in Antwerp and trade unionists from Belgium and Germany met for an emergency meeting. They want to coordinate their actions after Opel boss Nick Reilly announced the closure of the plant in the Flemish port city. The Opel employees see this step as a breach of word. Belgium had been promised the construction of off-road vehicles. Opel works council chairman Klaus Franz also took part in the meeting in Antwerp, which lasted several hours.

A good 120 Opel employees had traveled from Germany. Employees were also expected from Poland and Spain. 'We made it very clear: No redundancies for operational reasons and no plant closings,' said Peter Giesser, works council at the Rüsselsheim parent plant. 'GM has lost its credibility.' Because things have turned out differently, the willingness of the workforceaccepting financial cuts, almost zero. It is also not the case that the plant in Bochum would benefit from the closure of Antwerp. After all, production could be relocated to Great Britain, for example.

The shutdown of the plant would affect at least 2,600 people. For them, Tuesday was their first regular working day after being officially informed of the plans last Thursday. An exact date for the closure has not yet been set.


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