German Labor Leader in Bochum Does Not Support Opel Deal

General Motors Co. may still struggle to push through a labor deal announced yesterday after the works council leader at a German factory slated to end production said he doesn’t support the plan.

“As the head negotiator of the Bochum plant, I did not vote in favor of this agreement,” Rainer Einenkel, head of the Bochum works council, said in a statement today. “The position of the Bochum works council remains: the Bochum production site must be developed and not dismantled.”

GM agreed yesterday with the broader Opel works council to keep part of the Bochum facility as a components and logistics center after auto production stops four years from now. The decision will secure about 1,200 of the location’s more than 3,000 jobs. The plan is part of a wider deal to guarantee the jobs of more than 20,000 German workers in exchange for a wage freeze as the unprofitable Opel brand works to reduce spending.

GM Europe, which includes Opel and Luton, England-based Vauxhall, has lost $18 billion since 1999, including a $1.8 billion deficit last year. GM reiterated targets on Feb. 14 for the division to improve earnings this year, helped by new models such as the Mokka and Adam, and to break even by 2015.

German pay increases, put on hold in November as part of the negotiation process, will be postponed through 2015, Ruesselsheim-based Opel said in a statement yesterday. GM will refrain from forced firings through 2016 as part of the deal.

Gearbox assembly in Bochum will be scaled back to two shifts instead of three, with 700 positions being cut in the move, Opel said. The automaker had previously planned to cease gearbox production entirely in the city at the end of 2013.

“The brand needs quiet and a future,” Einenkel said in today’s statement. “That’s not possible without Opel Bochum.”