The car manufacturer wants to cut 2100 jobs by the end of the year via severance payments, early retirement or partial retirement. So far there have only been 500 volunteers for this. Management increases the pressure.
At Opel the signs between management and the works council are pointing to escalation. The reason: In an internal circular that the Handelsblatt has received, personnel manager Ralph Wangemann threatens the workforce with operational dismissals if more employees do not decide to leave the car manufacturer voluntarily.
At the beginning of the year, the management of the PSA subsidiary and the employee representatives agreed that Opel by the end of 2021 may cut a further 2,100 jobs via a social plan. “So far, however, a total of only 500 colleagues have decided on partial retirement, senior leave or severance pay. This means that we are far from the required number of employees who are leaving, ”wrote Wangemann in the employee message. And further: “We have to implement the downsizing by the end of the year.”
Opel now wants to set up a working group with the works council to quickly look for options on how the downsizing can be accelerated. “If we do not achieve this goal through voluntary measures, we will review the future collective agreement, in particular the obligation to secure employment,” announced Wangemann.
The manager plans to reassess the situation by the end of November. “Based on this, the implementation of redundancies for operational reasons would also be examined,” writes the Labor Director.
There is horror in the labor leader camp, according to trade union circles. A unilateral breach of the future collective agreement would be for the works councils and the union shop stewards IG Metall an unprecedented affront. Meanwhile, the management asks for understanding of the procedure. “The pressure is increasing due to the general economic situation, triggered by the biggest health and economic crisis in around 100 years,” states Wangemann.
Employees can hardly understand the procedure
In fact, the corona crisis hit Opel hard. Sales are in the core market in the first half of the year Europe slumped by 55 percent compared to the previous year. The market share of the brand with the lightning bolt dropped from 5.5 to 3.8 percent.
The venerable vehicle manufacturer is increasingly fighting against insignificance. Nevertheless, unlike many of its competitors, Opel still made a small profit in the first six months due to a rigid savings plan.
Many employees find it difficult to understand that despite the positive result, there are suddenly redundancies at Opel, according to corporate circles. Labor director Wangemann addresses each individual: “My request to you is above all the following: Familiarize yourself in detail with the attractive offers of the volunteer programs.”
From the management’s point of view, redundancies for operational reasons are still only the very last resort – but they are no longer excluded. “It is the responsibility of the management to make decisions that secure the future of our company in the long term,” said an Opel spokesman.