Workers at GM’s Bochum plant in Germany on Wednesday decided to return to work after their strike, lasting nearly a week, brought two other factories to a halt.

Workers at GM’s Bochum plant in Germany on Wednesday decided to return to work after their strike, lasting nearly a week, brought two other factories to a halt.

"We have decided to go back ," one union spokesman said after more than two-thirds of the employees voted to resume production.

On Tuesday, production at Opel’s Russelsheim (Germany) and Antwerp (Belgium) factories ground to a halt from a lack of parts which the Bochum plant produces.

Workers at the plant downed their tools on Thursday after GM announced plans to slash 12 000 jobs in Europe by the end of 2006. The workers demanded assurances that no one would be fired, despite the plant’s low levels of productivity. Four thousand workers were expected to be fired from the plant.

In talks between GM and labour unions on Tuesday, the multinational agreed to keep its main German plants operating beyond 2010 and possibly avoid staff cutbacks.

In a statement, GM said: "Both sides want to make the Russelsheim and Bochum facilities competitive enough to be maintained as automobile plants beyond 2010. The same applies to the Kaiserslautern site."

The three plants have been targeted in GM's attempts to cut costs by over R3 billion at its European operations, which have been reflecting losses since 1999.

GM said it would aim to find "socially acceptable" ways of carrying out the planned job cuts.

Meanwhile, a fall in orders from MG Rover and Land Rover has prompted the loss of 400 jobs at BMW's Swindon plant in the UK.

This follows the 330 jobs cut at the plant earlier this year. These cuts reportedly formed part of the final stage in the restructuring of the plant.

The 400 job cuts will be voluntary and employees will be given the option to transfer to the Oxford Mini plant.

MG Rover's contract with the car body plant expires next year and it has already started buying parts from other UK suppliers.