The chief representative of employees at German carmaker Opel demanded Saturday a clear statement from US concern General Motors to deny rumours that GM might sell the Opel unit.

Workers council chairman Rainer Einenkel in a statement issued in Dusseldorf to the press, demanded that GM must “deny the sales plans, and no if’s, and’s or but’s.” He added: “Soft statements help neither the employees nor the reputation of our product.”

His demand follows several days of rumours and media reports flying about that Detroit-based GM was again considering selling its European operations, which are based in Germany but also include Vauxhall in Britain.

German automotive magazine Auto Bild, citing unnamed sources, said that GM executives doubted the chances of survival for the German subsidiary and were looking at concrete plans to sell Opel.

The latest issue of weekly Der Spiegel also reports of alleged plans by GM to sell Opel, with possible buyers being rival Volkswagen or a Chinese carmaker.

A spokesman for Opel dismissed the reports as pure speculation.

Einenkel’s demand for a statement from GM follows, on that issued Friday, by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in which she called on the US firm to state clearly how it regarded the future of Opel. The German government spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told a press briefing that Merkel was concerned that reports of a possible sale had lead to worries among Opel’s workers.

Opel has major production sites in Russelsheim, near Frankfurt, as well as in Bochum, Eisenach and Kaiserslautern. The company’s European-wide payroll is around 40,500.

In May, the company and workers representatives in Bochum had agreed on a plan to reduce the payroll by 1,800 jobs, those falling under GM’s overall plans to cut employment at its European units by some 8,000.

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