Mrs Felder, you announced your plans for a strategic partnership with Segula Technologies roughly one week ago. What has happened since then?
Firstly, we presented the potential strategic partnership to the works council last week. Afterwards we comprehensively briefed our employees in Engineering and informed the public. On Thursday we had the opportunity to discuss our thoughts in detail with the general works council. Therefore we are now in an orderly process of discussing this important topic with our social partners. As of Friday we then organised 17 large information sessions and personally informed all employees of our engineering center of the plans. The face-to-face communication is very important to me because, naturally, there are many questions.
What have the reactions been like?
On the one hand, people obviously want to know more about Segula. And obviously all employees want to know how the people set to be taken on by our potential strategic partner will be selected. This is something we need to discuss with our
social partners first. In general, I have the impression that everybody realises that we need solutions for the future overcapacities in Engineering. Therefore, there was a certain level of relief that we are presenting a plan that could sustainably safeguard 2,000 jobs here in Rüsselsheim. But naturally there is also a certain insecurity. That is perfectly understandable because lots of things still need to be negotiated. That makes open and direct communication with our employees all the more important – personally, in team and leadership meetings, as well as online on the intranet.
What are the next steps? When will the employees transfer to Segula?
I cannot provide a precise timeline today because it depends on the further negotiations with Segula and above all on the negotiations with our social partners. However, it is clear that we want to bring the potential strategic partnership to implementation as quickly as possible. That is why the negotiations have the utmost priority now.
« For the entire management it is indispensable
that our own development center in
Rüsselsheim remains a core of Opel. »
Were there no other alternatives to a strategic partnership? It is certain to be difficult for many employees to change from a manufacturer to an engineering service provider.
We analysed the situation in depth. A strategic partnership is by far the best solution to keep the highly qualified jobs here on site. We can do that with Segula. Segula has ambitious plans for growth and is also active in other areas such as energy and aviation. Altogether the role of engineering service providers in the industry has undergone a transformation. The companies take over increasingly complex tasks.
Most important is that the job safeguard in the collective agreement would be retained for all employees until 2023.
How do you deal with accusations that the decision is undermining the Opel brand? Last week the IG Metall union demanded that Opel is not allowed to become an extended workbench of PSA and that it needs its own strong engineering.
Let me make one thing very clear: with a partnership we want to tackle the overcapacities that have been created by the decreasing workload from external parties.
And if the partnership should be agreed, we would definitely still be able to develop complete vehicles and propulsion systems. We will make absolutely certain that the necessary competences remain with us long term in Engineering. For the entire management – and also the management of Groupe PSA in Paris – it is indispensable that our own development center in Rüsselsheim remains a core of Opel. The future Opel models will be developed here and we will perform very important tasks for the entire Groupe PSA such as the global responsibility for a new engine family or light commercial vehicles.
Nevertheless, it is apparently not clear to everyone in which direction the Opel brand and the company itself is heading?
We have a clear roadmap for our company in the PACE! strategic plan. We will be profitable, electric and global. A sharper brand profile is an important driver. Therefore we are starting a big campaign to present our sharper brand positioning in detail to all colleagues. And with our new GT X Experimental concept car we are demonstrating very clearly how our cars will show our brand values – German, exciting, approachable – in future.