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No deal for Opel, unions on restructuring by deadline

A logo of Opel is pictured at the Opel plant in Bochum March 23, 2012. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender
A logo of Opel is pictured at the Opel plant in Bochum March 23, 2012. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

HAMBURG (Reuters) - Loss-making General Motors unit Opel has not reached an agreement with its German workforce over a restructuring plan, including the planned closure of its Bochum plant, by the Friday deadline imposed by trade union IG Metall.

"Discussions will be held whether to continue negotiations and if so on what basis," a spokeswoman for IG Metall told Reuters on Friday.

Should the union's wage commission, which is expected to meet within the hour, come to the conclusion that the two sides are still too far apart, then it would be tantamount to declaring the talks have failed.

This would mean that come November 1, IG Metall would automatically expect Opel to hike wages by the 4.3 percent agreed across the industry, which has not been paid for months in agreement with the union, with full back pay.

Should it, however, choose to go ahead with further negotiations then it will have to decide whether to continue delaying the wage increase. The union's federal wage commission is the only body with the authority to make this decision.

"There will be a solution for this. If negotiations continue, then this issue will be clarified," the spokeswoman said.

This week's decision by GM rival Ford to close two vehicle assembly plants in Europe -- reducing capacity by 355,000 vehicles and about 13 percent of its European workforce -- adds additional pressure to unions to accept deep cuts that would include the closure of Bochum.

(Reporting by Jan Schwartz; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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