Diary

Obama throws Merkel under the bus

GM reneged on a deal to sell Opel to some Russian-Canadian consortium.

Angry German workers on Thursday protested General Motors’ shock refusal to sell its European unit Opel and its plans to cut 10,000 jobs, moves slammed as a slap in the face for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Around 10,000 workers demonstrated at Ruesselsheim near Frankfurt, Opel’s biggest German factory, while 3,000 downed tools at Bochum, another 3,000 at Kaiserslautern and around 600 at Eisenach.

No doubt GM doesn’t see it as 10,000 jobs cut, but as saving the jobs of the other 40,000 workers.

GM estimated it would need 3.0 billion euros (4.5 billion dollars) in state aid and was confident it could secure the sum from Germany and other European countries where Opel and the British Vauxhall unit have plants.

The announcements came a day after GM, which was struggling with a bankruptcy reorganisation backed by the US and Canadian governments, stunned the auto sector by abandoning an agreed plan to sell Opel to Canadian auto parts manufacturer Magna International and state-owned Russian bank Sberbank.

It said it would restructure the unit itself, just hours after an unwitting Merkel gave a historic speech before a joint session of the US Congress and held talks with US President Barack Obama.

Classy move! Oh but wait…

Obama assured Merkel in a phone call on Wednesday evening that he was “not involved” in GM’s decision, Merkel’s spokesman said Thursday.

Right. He just controls the ownership of it. Why blame him? I’m sure the Europeans are just waiting t line up with bailout cash for ObamaMotors.

Merkel’s government had invested major financial and political capital in saving Opel from insolvency before a September general election that which she handily won.

Beyond pledging 4.5 billion euros in state aid for the ailing company, Berlin spent months shepherding a rescue deal.

Ouch. Germany can now join the growing list of supposed allies that have been screwed by Obama.

To be fair, it sounds like there were going to cuts anyway. Germany was trying to keep the German unit as protected as possible. Some Opel employees in Spain and England see this as a good thing, as it might spread the cuts more evenly across the continent. But no matter what, you can’t help but feel that Obama stabbed Merkel in the back.