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Saab employees down tools

Saab workers in Sweden downed tools for several hours on Monday, demanding that parent company General Motors make a decision about the future of its European plants.

Saab has said it is planning a new, small Saab. The company’s CEO Jan-Åke Jonsson told TT that it is still planned for the factory in Trollhättan, near Gothenburg, to build the small car. It is intended for the new model to be phased in when the current models are taken out of production.

Jonsson also hopes that the factory will build the new Opel Astra, which will use the same platform. These models would secure the plants future after 2010. He added that relations with unions were good.

But union representatives expressed concern.

“We are worried that there are secret plans, and that that is the reason that the GM management don’t want to talk with us,” Paul Åkerlund, union spokesman in Trollhättan, told a meeting of 500 employees at the end of Monday morning’s shift.

Åkerlund was flanked by Mari-Ann Krantz, chairwoman of the Sif office workers union and Anders Tiderman of the IF Metall.

“It is very bad that they don’t want to talk with unions,” said Alf Holm, a worker at the factory, after the meeting.

He added that the climate at the company had become worse in the past year. Industrial action in the form of information meetings, strikes and overtime bans have been taking place at GM’s plants across Europe. A meeting will be held next week to decide how far unions have succeeded in persuading management to conduct a dialogue.

Mari-Ann Krantz said that she shared Åkerlund’s fear that GM has a secret agenda.

“Moreover, I do not believe that they are sitting there with a blank sheet of paper,” she said.

“All employees need to adapt – we are living in a changing world. The problem is how long time changes take,” said Anders Tiderman.

CARS

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court

Swedish car maker Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson and the firm's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have appeared in court in Vänersborg in west Sweden, accused of falsifying financial documents shortly before the company went bankrupt in 2011.

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court
Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson. Photo: Karin Olander/TT
The pair are accused of falsifying the paperwork at the height of the Swedish company's financial difficulties at the start of the decade.
 
A third person – who has not been named in the Swedish media – is accused of assisting them by issuing false invoices adding up to a total of 30 million kronor ($3.55m).
 
According to court documents, the charges relate to the firm's business in Ukraine and the paperwork in question was signed just before former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson resigned.
 
Both Jonsson and Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have admitted signing the papers but denied knowledge of the Ukranian firm implicated in the case.
 
All three suspects deny all the charges against them.
 

Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers. Photo:  Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT
 
Saab filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2011, after teetering on the edge of collapse for nearly two years.
 
Chief prosecutor Olof Sahlgren told the court in Vänersborg on Wednesday that the alleged crimes took place in March 2011, when Saab was briefly owned by the Dutch company Spyker Cars.
  
It was eventually bought by National Electric Vehicle Sweden (Nevs), a Chinese-owned company after hundreds of staff lost their jobs.
 
The car maker, which is based in west Sweden, has struggled to resolve serious financial difficulties by attracting new investors since the takeover.
 
In October 2014 it announced it had axed 155 workers, close to a third of its workforce.
 
Since 2000, Saab automobile has had no connection with the defence and aeronautics firm with the same name. It only produces one model today, the electric 9-3 Aero Sedan, mainly targeting the Chinese market.