Union officials doubt BAIC will keep its promise of keeping European factories open
8 July 2009

Opel unions have spoken out against Chinese manufacturer BAIC, which has lodged a £570 million bid for Opel/Vauxhall.

Union leaders claim BAIC is not interested in the long-term future and survival of the car maker and expressed doubts over its promise to keep European factories open.

Klaus Franz, Opel's top union official, said BAIC was only interested in gaining Opel/Vauxhall technology to apply to cars in the booming Chinese market. He added “BAIC has no experience in the global auto industry.”

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Rainer Einenkel, union leader at Opel's Bochum factory in Germany, doubted whether BAIC would keep European factories open. He said: “I have a lot of concerns and scepticism about BAIC because I cannot assess its intentions. The situation perplexes us.”

BAIC plans to idle production at Opel’s Eisenach factory in Germany and the plant’s union boss Harald Lieske feels the move would ruin productivity at the plant, where a complete car can be assembled in 14 hours.

He said: “Just as good musicians need the practice, so do our staff. It is a permanent learning process working in a factory since operations are constantly being improved and optimised.”

The economics minister for the area, Juergen Reinholz described BAIC’s plans as “completely out of the question.”

BAIC yesterday confirmed it planned to sell up to half a million Opels per year by 2015 in China if its offer to GM for Opel/Vauxhall is accepted.

The firm plans to switch some production to China, at the expense of Opel’s Antwerp factory in Belgium, by 2012. In 2010 and 2011, it plans to import up to 60,000 Opels per year to China.

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Mark Tisshaw

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