Germans protest Opel job losses

Stephen Beard Nov 5, 2009
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Germans protest Opel job losses

Stephen Beard Nov 5, 2009
HTML EMBED:
COPY

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Steve Chiotakis: At least 8,000 auto workers in Germany have walked off the job in protest today, upset about GM killing a plan to sell its European unit, Opel. You’ll remember Opel was to be sold the Canadian auto-parts maker Magna. That deal now, dead.

And now the big question is: How will the workers be affected? Let’s bring in Marketplace European correspondent Stephen Beard for the latest. He’s live with us from London. Hi Stephen.

Stephen Beard: Hello Steve.

Chiotakis: So what’s the root of all this anger?

Beard: Well, of course, jobs. Until yesterday these workers in Germany believed that Opel would be sold to car-parts maker Magna and its partners. And that all four Opel plants in Germany would be kept open. That was the guarantee under that deal. Now the workers fear that two of those plants could be closed with big job losses in Germany.

Chiotakis: We’re talking thousands of job losses, right?

Beard: Indeed.

Chiotakis: Yeah. But weren’t there to have been job losses anyway under the Magna deal?

Beard: That’s right. There were going to be 10,000 job losses under the Magna arrangement. But since the German government was offering something like $6 billion in state aid to back that Magna deal, the Germans believed that they wouldn’t suffer the brunt of those cuts. Now that deal is off the table. The money is off the table too. And German workers are worried that they could suffer disproportionately. By the way, GM has confirmed today that 10,000 jobs will go across Europe. They haven’t, however, revealed where the ax will fall.

Chiotakis: But GM, Stephen, still needs some form of government aid, doesn’t it? I mean where’s that money going to come from?

Beard: It does indeed. The company says it needs at least $4.5 billion from governments to pay for the restructuring. It’s going to have to turn to other governments, other countries like the U.K., where there are GM plants for that money. GM will certainly kick some money in to protect some German jobs. It seems pretty clear there’s going to be a lot of horse trading over the next few weeks and months.

Chiotakis: All right, Stephen Beard joining from London this morning. Stephen, thanks.

Beard: OK Steve.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.