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Stracke Out as GM Europe Chief, Girsky In

Another shake-up roils troubled operation.

by on Jul.12, 2012

In: former auto analyst Steve Girsky.

Once again, the music has stopped in the game of musical chairs at General Motors troubled European operations and this time it’s Karl-Friedrich Stracke, GME President and CEO of Opel/Vauxhall who was left without a seat.

The long-time German engineer, who took the European post only last November, is the latest victim in a worsening crisis that will now test GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky.  A long-time Wall Street auto analyst-cum-automotive-executive, Girsky has been chairing the Opel Supervisory Board and will now take over as GM Europe’s interim chief while the search begins for a new boss.

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“Karl Stracke worked tirelessly, under great pressure, to stabilize this business and we look forward to building on his success. We appreciate Karl’s many contributions to GM’s success,” Akerson said.


German Workers Give Opel $332 mil in Concessions

Will government bailout finally come though?

by on May.21, 2010

German Chancellor Merkel will have to decide whether to follow job concessions with federal government aid.

Reluctant workers have agreed to give General Motors’ troubled Opel subsidiary more than $300 million in concessions, a move that could help free up millions more in bailout money from the German government.

Talks between Opel and its unions have been underway since GM’s European unit started slipping perilously towards insolvency, in early 2009, at the same time General Motors itself prepared to file Chapter 11.

In all, Opel says it won $332.5 million in givebacks from its workers, a deal that includes unspecified job cuts.  A one-time payout to workers has been eliminated, and a 2.7% pay raise has been delayed.  Workers also have agreed to reductions in holiday and Christmas bonuses.

Early on in the discussions, the automaker had discussed job cuts that some analysts forecast could run to more than 10,000.  Opel and its sibling, British-based Vauxhall brands currently employ 48,000 workers, about half in Germany.

The bulk of the concessions come from IG Metall, the largest of the automaker’s unions and one of the most powerful labor bodies in Europe.  In return, the automaker has agreed to give German workers a new small car to produce.


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While the concessions should help, Opel is still struggling to pull together a reorganization plan that will require more investment by parent GM – as well as financial aid from European governments, most notably Germany.

The Berlin government offered some initial assistance, last year, but later demanded repayment after GM nixed the proposed sale of a controlling stake in its subsidiary to a Canadian-Russian consortium let by Toronto-based supplier Magna.