Opel axes 2,100 jobs in Germany amid ‘ever-stricter’ emissions restrictions

Peugeot subsidiary Opel is feeling the pinch as EU emissions standards and falling demand bite into profits. (AFP)
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Updated 15 January 2020

Opel axes 2,100 jobs in Germany amid ‘ever-stricter’ emissions restrictions

  • Peugeot bought Opel from US-based General Motors in 2017

FRANKFURT: Peugeot subsidiary Opel said on Tuesday it will offer 2,100 more German workers voluntary redundancies, as it struggles to stay afloat faced with collapsing demand and an EU emissions squeeze.

“The voluntary leave program will be reopened for employees ... limited to a maximum of 2,100 positions,” the company said in a statement.

But it added that forced redundancies would be ruled out until at least 2025.

Meanwhile Opel’s main Ruesselsheim plant will be outfitted to produce the next generation Astra sedan in both internal combustion and hybrid versions — “providing the perspective for many years of manufacturing.”

“This agreement creates a further considerable improvement of our competitiveness” and “gives our employees long-term security,” CEO Michael Lohscheller said.

The historic German carmaker, which Peugeot bought from US-based General Motors in 2017, had already slashed almost 7,000 out of 19,000 jobs since the takeover, as the industry grapples with lower global demand.

But rather than sales challenges, Opel highlighted “ever-stricter CO2 regulations that the entire automotive industry is facing” as the main reason for Tuesday’s move.

From this year, manufacturers in the EU must reach average CO2 emissions across their new vehicle fleets of below 95 grams per kilometer, on pain of harsh fines.

After years of losses under GM, Opel returned to the black under its new owner in 2018, selling around a million vehicles.

UK suffers biggest job losses since 2009 as coronavirus takes toll

Updated 11 August 2020

UK suffers biggest job losses since 2009 as coronavirus takes toll

  • Mounting job losses are expected as Britain winds down its job retention scheme which protects employees

LONDON: The number of people in work in Britain fell by the most since 2009 in the three months through June as the coronavirus crisis took a heavy toll on the labor market, even with the government’s huge jobs protection scheme still in place.
Led by a record plunge in self-employed workers, there were 220,000 less people employed in the second quarter, the Office for National Statistics said.
Separate tax data for July showed that the number of staff on company payrolls had fallen by 730,000 since March, sounding the alarm about a potentially much bigger rise in joblessness.
Mounting job losses are expected as Britain winds down its job retention scheme which protects employees. It is due to close at the end of October.
“The cracks evident in the latest batch of labor market data are likely to soon turn into a chasm,” said Ruth Gregory, senior economist at Capital Economics.
British finance minister Rishi Sunak said the figures showed the government’s support programs were working but job losses were inevitable.
“I’ve always been clear that we can’t protect every job, but ... we have a clear plan to protect, support and create jobs to ensure that nobody is left without hope,” he said.
The unemployment rate unexpectedly held at 3.9 percent but that reflected an increase in people who had given up looking for work and who were therefore not considered to be unemployed, and people who said they were in work but were getting no pay.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected the unemployment rate to rise to 4.2 percent. Last week the Bank of England forecast the jobless rate would hit 7.5 percent at the end of this year.
“Government needs to step in and help those who are likely to lose their job retrain for new openings in different sectors,” KPMG economist Yael Selfin said.
The number of self-employed people fell by a record amount in the three months to June, led by older workers, while the number of employees rose — something the ONS said was partly accounted for by workers reclassifying themselves as employed.
The number of people claiming universal credit — a benefit for the unemployed and those on low pay — rose to 2.689 million in July, leaping by 117 percent from March.
Pay fell by the most in more than 10 years in the April-June period, down 1.2 percent, reflecting how workers on the job retention scheme receive 80 percent of their pay. Excluding bonuses, pay fell for the first time since records began in 2001.
However, there was a small increase in job vacancies in the three months to July.
“The increase was driven by small businesses (less than 50 employees), some of which reported taking on staff to meet coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines,” the ONS said.