Mike Stevens | Feb 19, 2009

It seems that if GM is to survive, it’s not going to be given an easy run. Especially in Europe where the UK, Swedish and German governments have all reacted cautiously to requests for £4.2 billion (AUD $9 billion) in government aid.

The UK government is considering a loan upon presentation of a plan for the Vauxhall/Opel brand from GM. The Swedish Government however is of the belief that GM has abandoned responsibility for Saab, leaving its survival up to the Swedish taxpayer.

"They have in practice removed their hands from Saab... they are handing over responsibility to Swedish taxpayers," said Swedish industry minister Maud Olofsson.

GM has already announced that up to 47,000 jobs would be cut around the world, with 26,000 of those cuts being outside the US. Already Vauxhall plants in Cheshire and Luton have begun ‘short-time’ working schedules. Vauxhall is also in negotiations with unions regarding further restructuring plans.

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GM Europe is also considering third-party alliances, partnerships and equity stakes if it means a more sustainable future for the company and helps to avoid plant closures and redundancies. Germany has requested a plan for Opel to support the request for state support.

"At the moment, politicians can't do anything because the necessary concepts from Opel [Vauxhall] are not available," UK Chancellor Angela Merkel stated.

"And that can't happen without the parent company in Detroit."

Workers with GM’s European operations are appaled by the possibility of an uncertain future. Francisco Jimenez, a GM employee with Opel in Germany:

"Opel makes a profit, and we had a profit last year as well. Nobody on the outside knows that - they just always think that since the parent is falling apart that Opel is also bloody rubbish."

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