Belgium: Strike action at Opel car factory

Workers at Opel
Workers at Opel

There have been a series of stoppages recently at the Opel factory, due to management restructuring.

Submitted by jef costello on July 6, 2007

The first strike at the General Motors-owned firm began on June 15th when the night shift walked of the job in protest at management's refusal to answer questions on the restructuring plan, the strike lasted until the 18th.

On the first of July the factory was shut down after the morning shift walked out in protest after a meeting outlining the effects of the restructuring, some 2300 job losses. Although the afternoon shift agreed to work the factory remained shut down as delivery staff refused to end the wildcat.

Over the next two weeks, some 400 workers, mostly trainees and temporary workers, will lose their jobs, management has agreed to pay all workers some compensation, even those who have been employed for less than a year. The losses have mostly been on the night shifts, although management has pledged to keep a night shift operating.

Compensation payments will go as high as 144000 euros, although obviously most workers will receive much less. 1160 of the workers will take early retirement with a guarantee of 82-89% of their final salary. The former head of Volvo Gand, Peter Leyman, described the payments as immoral, the Federation of Belgian Businesses (FEB) described the payments as worrying. Workers and Unions reacted angrily to these announcements.

Last night the evening shift walked off the job claiming irregularities in their pay slips, it was initially unclear whether this movement would affect other shifts but after three hours workers accepted management assurances that all mistakes would be looked into and returned to work.