GM’s Opel Offers Buyouts to Bochum Transmission Workers

General Motor Co.’s Opel unit is offering severance packages to the 300 employees producing transmissions at its Bochum, Germany, plant who volunteer to leave this year as the carmaker prepares to shut the factory.

The program includes the opportunity for workers to join a transfer company for 12 months that helps them prepare for a new job, Opel and the IG Metall union said today in separate statements. Employees can also opt to shift to the vehicle-assembly line at Bochum or transfer to another Opel plant.

The agreement reached between management at Ruesselsheim, Germany-based Opel, the works council and the union is independent of talks on the future of employees at the Bochum carmaking unit that’s scheduled to close by the end of 2014. The Bochum site workforce totaled 3,200 people at the end of 2012.

“The agreement includes very fair compensation payments and regulations that help employees in reorientation and offers them a perspective,” Alexander Bazio, an Opel spokesman in Bochum, said by phone.

GM’s European division, which mainly includes Opel and the U.K. sister brand Vauxhall, is working to restore profitability by 2016 following losses exceeding $18 billion since 1999. The closing of the Bochum plant will mark the first shutdown of a German car factory since World War II.

GM decided to halt production at Bochum after workers there rejected a proposal for wage concessions in exchange for keeping the plant running until 2016. Employees at Opel facilities in the German towns of Eisenach, Kaiserslautern, Dudenhofen and Ruesselsheim accepted a wage freeze to preserve jobs.