Page last updated at 12:56 GMT, Friday, 19 February 2010

Opel plans 700 new jobs in Poland for new Astra model

GM and Opel logos
GM is now hoping for aid from the German government

General Motors' (GM) European car unit Opel will create up to 700 jobs this year to produce its new Astra IV model at its factory in Poland.

The plant will operate 24 hours a day, going from two shifts, to three.

"This has been planned for a long time, and will be in operation by the middle of the year," Opel spokesperson Ulrich Weber told the BBC.

The move may help GM secure billions of euros in loans to help Opel return to profitability.

Restructuring programme

Earlier this month, Opel said it will invest 11bn euros ($15bn; £9.7bn) "in a new product offensive" over the next five year.

The investment at the factory in Gliwice, southern Poland forms part of a plan to break even within two years, it said.

The news of new jobs represents a reversal for the Gliwice factory, which currently employs 2,500 people - 500 fewer than a year ago.

Opel has felt the brunt of the global downturn. The Gliwice factory saw production plummet by 43.5% to 96,700 vehicles in 2009 from 171,640 in 2008.

However, GM management also reiterated its plans to cut 8,300 jobs across Europe and to close a plant in Antwerp.

Roughly 40 administrative jobs at the plant are to be cut under a restructuring plan presented by Opel in its statement earlier this month.

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