FRANKFURT -- The head of the works council at General Motors' German unit Adam Opel AG accused the U.S. company on Thursday, Oct. 7, of damaging its business in Europe by failing to learn from past mistakes.
Locked in talks with GM over plans by the world's largest carmaker to freeze pay at Opel until 2009, Klaus Franz told Reuters that GM was making an error by clipping the wings of its independence-minded European brands Opel, Saab and Vauxhall.
"Opel is just on the way back to its positive image for products and quality and then the managers make the same mistakes as in the 1990s," Franz said in an interview. "At that time as well the managers thought they had to take everything into their hands centrally."
He said this undermined GM's European brands, which the group has insisted needed to be streamlined so that they could wring out more synergies than by operating as separate fiefdoms.
Franz was reacting to media reports that GM could consolidate production capacity, close plants and cut staff costs massively to stop its chronic losses in Europe.
GM has abandoned its forecast that European operations would turn a profit this year and has not said when the red ink will stop.
Franz said the works council had not yet been informed by GM management about concrete plans for Europe. "But we want detailed, concrete information and a dialogue as is our custom," he said, adding that Opel's supervisory board would meet next week at the works council's request.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on Thursday that more than 10,000 jobs were at risk at General Motors's European division and that the company was discussing the closure of a plant as early as 2009.