Bonn: As the car sales in Europe continued to decline, one of Germany's largest auto-maker Opel has finalised the long-planned shut down of its production facility in Bochum at the end of next year.     

The supervisory board of US General Motors' (GM) loss-making European subsidiary, which met at its headquarters in Russelsheim near Frankfurt on Wednesday, finally decided to end production at its 50-year old plant in the western German city, two years earlier than originally planned, on the recommendation of its management board.
    
Production of Opel's family car 'Zafira', which was planned to continue in Bochum until the end of 2016, will be shifted to one of its three remaining plants in Germany or elsewhere in Europe, the company said in a statement after the meeting.
    
A proposal to produce auto components in the Bochum plant after it ends the production of cars also has been rejected by the board.
    
It will be the first shut down of a car production plant in Germany for several decades. Trade unions and Opel's workers' council criticised the decision and expressed concern that the closure of the Bochum plant will lead to around 3,500 redundancies in the coming years.
    
The supervisory board decision to wind up the car production in Bochum, which began its operation in 1962, came nearly a month after the plant's 3,200-strong workforce voted overwhelmingly to reject a management board restructuring plan for the entire company.
    
The management board had offered to end the production in Bochum only at the end of 2016 in exchange for an agreement to retain it as an auto component plant and logistics centre, saving 1,200 jobs.
    
Bochum has been one of the main production centres for Opel's 'Astra' and 'Zafira' models. Opel also produces 'Astra', 'Insignia' and 'Vectra' cars at its main production centre in Russelsheim, 'Corsa' and 'Adam' models in Eisenach, in eastern Germany and auto components at its plant in Kaiserslautern.
    
Opel also has seven other production locations across Europe. Rainer Einenkel, head of Opel's workers' council deplored the supervisory board decision and vowed to fight to keep the auto plant in Bochum and to safeguard the jobs of its workers.
    
Not only the jobs of Opel labour force, but also the means of livelihood for thousands of others dependent on the industry, also are at stake, he said in a television interview.
    
The workers' council rejected the management board's offer because it was very sceptical about it and it was a "right decision", he said.

In a newspaper interview earlier, Einenkel called upon Opel workers in other European plants to show solidarity with the workers in Bochum and refuse to produce 'Zafira'.
    
Last week, General Motors unveiled plans to invest USD 4 billion in its European subsidiary over the next three years as part of its ten-year plan to help it turn around by the middle of this decade.
    
A large part of the new investment will go into the company's focus on models through 2016 as it aims to introduce 23 new models, the company said.
    
Industry analysts said Opel's continued focus on the German and European markets made it difficult for the company to recover from its slump in sales while other leading car makers have successfully expanded their sales in the emerging markets.
    
Meanwhile, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) reported on Wednesday that car sales across Europe dropped by 10.3 percent last month compared to the corresponding period in 2012.
    
It was the 18th consecutive monthly decline, according to the Association. New car registrations decreased by 9.8 percent during the first quarter this year compared to the corresponding period last year and all major European markets, except Britain suffered a double-digit decline, ACEA said.

(Agencies)

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