Opel’s chief executive demands concessions from labor unions

Michael Lohscheller

Opel’s new CEO, Michael Lohscheller, has demanded concessions from labor unions to make the loss-making automaker more competitive, before what he said would be a decisive round of pay talks with labor leaders.

“After making losses for almost 20 years in a row, the status quo is clearly no longer an option,” CEO Michael Lohscheller informed staff magazine Opel Post in an interview on Thursday.

“To improve our situation considerably, we need to enhance labor cost, global efficiency and to boost performance.”

In March, the automaker’s works council demanded constructive proposals from French parent PSA Group following exclusion of German sites from a sweeping investment plan pending the result of further pay talks.

PSA Group finished a $2.6 billion takeover of Opel last year as General Motors sold off its loss-making European operations, however CEO Carlos Tavares has been frustrated in his bid to decrease high production costs.

Management is set to meet on Friday with the works council and labor union IG Metall, two sources stated.

Slashing costs at the same time as increasing wages will be difficult, Lohscheller stated in the Opel Post report, including that management asked IG Metall to postpone a collective wage raise during the negotiations.

The company cannot secure a sustainable future without becoming profitable, Lohscheller stated, citing losses of 179 million euros suffered from last August and the end of the year.

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