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Thousands of Opel workers in protest after GM u-turn

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by Kay Mitchell
”Thousands

The announcement that US car giant General Motors (GM) abandoned plans to sell a majority stake in its European car business Opel, including its UK brand Vauxhall, has led to a protest by thousands of the 25,000 workers at Opel’s four factories.

In March, GM announced plans to offload Vauxhall and sister company, Germany-based Opel, and finally agreed to sell to Magna (Canadian car parts supplier) in September.

However, in a shock announcement this week, GM abandoned plans to sell its European operations after “an improving business environment”.

Under the agreement with Magna, Opel workers were promised no factories would be closed, but the u-turn by GM has resulted in fears that plants in Germany could close.

Germany’s powerful workers’ union, IG Metall said yesterday that workers at Opel’s four German factories would hold warning strikes today in protest at GM’s decision.

However, GM has yet to confirm whether or not plants will be closed down.

The decision also affected Vauxhall workers in the UK the decision was welcomed by the Unite union.

Tony Woodley, secretary general of Unite said he was “absolutely delighted” by the news and described it as an “incredible turnaround” by the US car giant.

John Featherstone, a Unite union official at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant in the UK, said: “I am pleased we will be dealing with GM because we know them and we understand their culture – and they know us.”

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News posted: November 5, 2009

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