Handelsblatt Exclusive

Government Vows to Protect Jobs, Plants at Opel

Germany Opel Peugeot
Picture Source: AP

The German government has vowed to protect jobs and plants at Opel in the wake of news that GM is in talks to sell its European subsidiary to French automaker Peugeot.

“The federal and state governments will work closely together for the preservation of plants, jobs, R&D centers and company agreements,” Matthias Machnig, the deputy economics minister who has been charged with coordinating government talks with the carmakers, unions and states, told Handelsblatt in an interview.

Mr. Machnig called on GM and Peugeot’s parent company, the PSA Group, to include trade unions and works councils in the negotiations. “It’s necessary to include workers and their representatives in further discussions,” he said.

News of the talks between GM and the PSA Group caught labor representatives at Opel by surprise and prompted angry reactions from politicians. Labor representatives issued a statement that was highly critical of the secret talks.

“Trust has to be restored through transparency,” Mr. Machnig said.

Volker Wissing, the economics minister of the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, also called on the PSA Group to make a clear statement that it’s committed to Opel’s plants in Germany.

“We need a clear commitment from PSA for the plants in Germany and for the German brand,” Mr. Wissing told Handelsblatt.

Opel employs 2,000 people at a plant in Kaiserslautern, located in Mr. Wissing’s home state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Mr. Wissing said the mooted sale of Opel to the PSA Group could present opportunities.

“We want to say to PSA that all investors are welcome,” Mr. Wissing said. “If an investor finds a government that’s clearly willing to offer support when it comes to transport infrastructure and permits, then that’s a clear advantage and we have to communicate that early.”

Read the full story in Friday’s Handelsblatt Global.

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