Auto Service World
News   August 24, 2009   by Auto Service World

German Officials Angered Over GM Delays on Opel Decision


It seems the desperation has gone out of GM’s planned divestitures in the last few weeks, as its board of directors ponders whether it should sell its Opel unit to Magna.

Word last week that the GM board was delaying its decision on the Magna deal incensed German officials in Berlin and workers union officials, say media reports.

While Germany’s politicians reacted angrily to GM board meeting’s move on Friday to postpone reaching a decision on Opel, key union leader at the German Opel operations lashed out the US auto group.

“We have run out of patience,” Klaus Franz told Germany’s Deutschland radio Monday, adding that Opel employees were now considering industrial action to force GM to settle the future of its European offshoot, which includes the Opel and Vauxhall car brands.

“Everyday day counts for the workers and for the economic situation,” said Merkel in a weekend German TV interview.

“The theme cannot be resolved through confrontation, but only between each other,” a German government spokesman said Monday with Berlin having also held discussions on Opel over the weekend with the White House and top US Administration officials.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has stepped up its calls for GM to end the uncertainty surrounding Opel ahead of a key state poll this weekend and as Germany gears up for a national election set down for September 27.

Opel employs some 25,000 of its total 55,0000 European-strong workforce in Germany and has operations in four of the nation’s states.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is the standardbearer for the Social Democrats in September election also spoke US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by telephone on Saturday about Opel.

“Steinmeier stressed that after months of intensive talks, it was time for a decision – and that workers at Opel deserved clarity on the issue, and a real perspective for their future,” the German Foreign Office said in a statement.

But while Germany has thrown its support behind a bid led by Canadian-Austrian auto parts group Magna International to buy a majority stake in Opel, German media reports have indicated that some GM officials have begun to question whether the group should give up control of Opel.


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