Chemistry Board

General Motors' German unit Opel wants to shorten workers' hours at its main plant in Ruesselsheim in response to weakening demand for cars in Europe.

GM lost $747 million on its European operations last year as a weak economy hit car sales in the region, forcing manufacturers to confront high fixed costs and a capacity overhang that GM has said equates to 10 plants.

"Due to the deteriorating market situation in Europe, management of Adam Opel AG is negotiating with the works council and (labor union) IG Metall over shortened working hours in Ruesselsheim," the company said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday, confirming an earlier newspaper report.

Opel, whose cars include the Astra and Meriva ranges, said on Thursday that it expected to conclude talks for shortened working hours in Ruesselsheim shortly.

Opel has four plants in Germany - in Ruesselsheim, Bochum, Kaiserslautern and Eisenach.

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