Opel slashes hours amid German carmaker gloom

FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) – German carmaker Opel said yesterday it would slash hours for workers at its main factory, highlighting a car industry hit by falling demand and a challenging technological transformation.

Peugeot subsidiary Opel “has registered reduced hours for six months from October” at its historic home base in Ruesselsheim, near Frankfurt, a spokesman told AFP.

Bosses and worker representatives have agreed to cut hours for the majority of the 2,600 workers at the plant, business daily Handelsblatt reported citing “company sources”.

Known in German as Kurzarbeit, officially-registered shorter hours mean the government steps in to cover some or all of the shortfall in workers’ income if their employer reduces working time during tough periods.

The measure is aimed at preventing jobs falling away altogether.

Opel builds its flagship Insignia model in Ruesselsheim, but the car has suffered falling sales over the past year.

Meanwhile the plant has stopped building the Zafira family van, meaning workers cannot be redeployed from one line to another.

New work won’t arrive until 2021, when the latest version of the compact Astra enters production.