FRANKFURT -- Workers at General Motors' Adam Opel plant in Bochum, Germany, voted to endorse a cost-cutting plan that would chop thousands of jobs but avoid forced layoffs, a labor leader said on Wednesday.
The vote heads off any messy labor row that could have erupted if rank-and-file GM workers had refused to go along with a deal that works councils at Opel's German sites have backed.
"We have a clear 'yes' vote," the Bochum plant's works council chief, Rainer Einenkel, told Reuters. "Not all the votes have been counted yet, but the 'yes' pile is clearly higher than the 'no' pile."
Workers at Bochum staged a brief wildcat strike last October over GM's plans to slash its European workforce by nearly a fifth as a way to lop 500 million euros ($671.7 million) a year from fixed costs.
The world's biggest carmaker is using voluntary redundancies, early retirement and job retraining schemes to cut up to 12,000 jobs in Europe, where it last made a profit in 1999 and expects another loss this year.
In Detroit, GM finance chief John Devine told a conference call with analysts and reporters that European operations were "off to a pretty good start" in 2005.
"We set a target of a loss of $500 million. We'd expect to beat that," he said, adding that restructuring was ahead of plan and the company's market share in Europe was good.