Opel works council: GM Europe holding should become a corporation

Zurich. Employees of General Motors Europe (GME) demand more worker participation.

"I plead for the founding of a European General Motors Europe stock corporation, a Sociéte Européenne (S.E.), instead of hanging on to the current holding-company structure. Only that way can employees' rights be secured in the long-term," said Klaus Franz, head of the Opel works council.

He said that currently the European influence is restricted to a voluntary economic committee. Two employee representatives from Opel, one from Saab and one from Vauxhall are currently holding four meetings a year with GME president Carl-Peter Forster and GME Chief Executive Fritz Henderson.

"We are prepared to talk about an S.E.," said a GME spokesman. Insiders said that Opel's legal department is already examining the possible consequences.

Meanwhile, the negotiations over the collective contracts at Opel are continuing. "We want a contract for the future that has a minimum period of validity until 2010," Franz explained.

He said that the management board should make a contribution to the austerity plans, but added that he did not believe a general 10 percent cut in management salaries is the right solution.

"The supervisory board will discuss if 60 percent of the salary can be turned into a variable share that is dependent on the success rate," Franz said.

The rate of success could be measured by looking at market value, economic success, quality management and level of employment protection.