Saab Workers Protest, Urge GM To Sell Brand

More than 3,000 Saab workers protested at the car maker's main production plant in Sweden, urging U.S. owner General Motors to sell the brand rather than close it down.

STOCKHOLM (AP) -- More than 3,000 Saab workers protested outside the car maker's main production plant in southwestern Sweden on Tuesday, urging U.S. owner General Motors to sell the brand rather than close it down.

Union representative Paul Akerlund said production was halted for around half-an-hour at midday as the workers put their tools down and picketed outside the plant in the town of Trollhattan.

GM has initiated the wind-down of Saab but says it's still evaluating bids for the troubled Swedish unit. Bidders include Dutch exotic automaker Spyker Cars and a team-up of Luxembourg private equity group Genii Capital and British billionaire and Formula 1 tycoon Bernard Ecclestone.

Akerlund said Saab workers are frustrated by how GM is handling the process and questioned whether the Detroit automaker really wants to sell Saab.

"We're not buying the argument that the bidders don't have enough money," Akerlund said.

In a statement Friday, GM said it expects the wind-down process to take several months, but that it "will ensure that employees, dealers and suppliers are adequately protected." In regards to the bids, it confirmed it had received "several proposals for Saab" that it would continue to evaluate. It did not name the contenders.

Swedish unions say GM is sending mixed signals about Saab's future.

"The owner General Motors is acting irresponsibly when giving signals in two different directions -- initiating liquidation of Saab at the same time as potential buyers are bidding," said Stefan Lofven, head of metalworkers union IF Metall.

Saab workers also sent a letter to GM's interim CEO Ed Whitacre Jr., urging GM to take a serious look at the offers.

Also Tuesday, the Swedish Companies Registration Office appointed liquidators to lead the wind-down process, meaning Saab chief executive Jan-Ake Jonsson no longer is in charge of the brand.

Aside from Saab, General Motors Co. is also eliminating Pontiac, Hummer and Saturn as part of a restructuring plan that will leave it with four core brands: Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick.

Saab employs about 3,400 people worldwide, most of whom work at its main plant in Trollhattan. The brand also has some 1,100 dealers.

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