FRANKFURT -- Thousands of jobs in Europe are on the line when General Motors resumes talks with labor on Wednesday over plans by GM to chop costs in the region by 500 million euros ($648.9 million).
GM and representatives of German unit Adam Opel AG have not agreed on cost-cutting measures that could head off plant closures or forced layoffs in Europe, where GM has not made a profit since 1999, officials said Tuesday.
"There are various ideas at the moment," Opel works council head Klaus Franz told Reuters, but he declined to go into detail. He said it was unclear how long the negotiations that began last month would go on.
GM said on Oct. 14 that it may cut up to 12,000 jobs in Europe -- nearly a fifth of the work force -- to control costs at a time of feeble growth that shows scant signs of picking up soon.
The bulk of the cuts over the next two years are slated for Germany, home of the world's best-paid car workers.
Excess capacity is also pushing down prices at a time of sluggish demand, keeping GM Europe in the red for a fifth consecutive year.
One source familiar with the GM negotiations played down a report in Germany's Handelsblatt newspaper that a meeting on Thursday would decide whether a deal could be struck this year.
"There are several scenarios on the table now, so there are a number of options out there, but I'd be careful about characterizing it as a dramatic turning point," the source said.
He underscored that GM's main goal was to save half a billion euros by 2006 and that the number of job cuts would hinge on how successfully costs can be pared in other ways.
Volkswagen AG agreed this month to preserve 103,000 jobs at its six western German plants through 2011 in return for a 28-month wage freeze and other concessions that will save it $1.29 billion a year.
But the deal also includes an escape clause that lets VW revisit the jobs pledge if conditions worsen dramatically.
A crucial issue in the GM talks is how much detail to nail down now and how much to leave open for later, the source said.