FRANKFURT (AP) -- German and Italian worker representatives met Wednesday to discuss the implications of a possible Fiat takeover of General Motors Corp.'s Opel unit, and voiced worries that major job cuts could result.
"We fear that jobs would be smashed with brute force," Opel's chief employee representative, Klaus Franz, said after the meeting. Union officials suggested that up to 18,000 jobs could be in danger in Europe.
Italy's Fiat wants to make GM Europe, including Opel, part of a global powerhouse also including Chrysler. Germany's Bild daily last week quoted Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne as saying it does not want to close any of Opel's four plants in Germany, but work forces would have to be reduced.
Franz said Opel employees are "not in principle hostile" to Fiat, but called for worker representatives to be included in negotiations.
Bruno Vitali, of Italy's FIM-CISL union, said further German-Italian union meetings are planned. "We need contact between the unions to defend jobs," he said. Vitali also voiced concern about what the Opel plan might mean for some Fiat plants in Italy.
Berlin is keen to ensure the future of Adam Opel GmbH -- which employs some 25,000 people in Germany, nearly half GM Europe's total work force.
As a possible alternative to Fiat, Canadian-based auto parts maker Magna International has said it is in talks about options for Opel that might include taking a minority stake, but otherwise has given few details.