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 PM raises visas in pitch for post-Brexit trade with Africa

Updated 3 min 41 sec ago

UK PM raises visas in pitch for post-Brexit trade with Africa

  • Boris Johnson told leaders including presidents Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya that he wanted to make Britain their investment partner of choice
  • Boris Johnson: By putting people before passports we will be able to attract the best talent from around the world, wherever they may be

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson told African leaders Monday that Britain would be more open to migrants from their continent after Brexit as he hosted a summit intended to boost trading ties.
He also promised an end to direct UK state investment in thermal coal mining or coal power plants overseas, saying London would focus on supporting a switch to low-carbon energy sources.
Johnson was speaking at the start of the first UK-Africa Investment Summit in London, a clear pitch for business less than two weeks before Britain leaves the European Union.
He told leaders including presidents Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya that he wanted to make Britain their “investment partner of choice.”
After highlighting all that Britain has to offer, he said Brexit would mean an end to preferential treatment for EU migrants.
“Our (immigration) system is becoming fairer and more equal between all our global friends and partners, treating people the same, wherever they come from,” he said.
“By putting people before passports we will be able to attract the best talent from around the world, wherever they may be.”
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who also attended the summit, said Brexit offered an opportunity for increased free trade across the Commonwealth — and said visas were a key issue.
“While many in the African diaspora enjoy considerable benefits from life in the West, they do not always feel at the heart of the community,” he wrote in an article for The Times on Monday.
“A renewed sense that there are ties that bind us through the Commonwealth, and a concerted effort to grow those links through trade, could act as a spur to encourage togetherness and the certainty of belonging.”
Johnson, whose country hosts the next UN climate change summit in Glasgow later this year, also announced a shift in investment strategy to help combat global warming.
Sub-Saharan African faces a number of environmental challenges, particularly the effects of climate change, water and air pollution, desertification, deforestation and over-fishing.
On fossil fuels, Johnson said: “There’s no point in the UK reducing the amount of coal we burn, if we then trundle over to Africa and line our pockets by encouraging African states to use more of it, is there?“
“We all breathe the same air, we live beneath the same sky. We all suffer when carbon emissions rise and the planet warns.”
He added: “Not another penny of UK taxpayers money will be directly invested in digging up coal or burning it for electricity.
“Instead, we’re going to focus on supporting the transition to lower and zero carbon alternatives.”
The British government’s export agency reports providing £2 billion ($2.6 billion) in financing for UK company exports to Africa in the past two years.
The agency says it now wants to “increase its risk appetite” in Egypt and the emerging economies in Nigeria and Rwanda.
The UK government said the London summit will see British and African firms announce commercial deals worth £6.5 billion.
It did not spell out whether these were all firm commitments or included memorandums of understanding that do not always result in actual deals.
Britain will leave the EU on January 31, although ties will remain the same for 11 months while the two sides thrash out a new trading relationship.
The UK has said it will be leaving the bloc’s single market and customs union.
Johnson wants the freedom to strike trade deals with other countries, even at the expense of some of its producers facing trade tariffs and quotas as a result.