The UAW may give General Motors fits on labor negotiations from time to time. But the American union has nothing on the Spaniards.
GM's Adam Opel AG unit operates one of the biggest GM plants in the world near Zaragosa, Spain. There, labor officials work with 7,600 hourly workers in four different languages and negotiate with not just one workers' union but five - each requiring its own contract.
Each union is aligned with a local Spanish political party. One of the unions represents about 900 Communists. Another represents about 1,100 socialists. And still another represents about 300 anarchists.
Plant officials refer to the anarchists as 'very extremely positioned.' But the company emphasizes it has found peace with its current three-year contracts.
'We have created very good cooperation with our people now,' says Guillermo Mancholas, Zaragosa's lean-manufacturing adviser.
One sign that things are going smoothly in Zaragosa: Last year workers generated about 30,000 ideas in the plant's suggestion program.