GERMANY - The German General-Motors subsidiary Opel is to top up the pensions it pays to around 20,000 of its former blue-collar workers.

A spokesman for the company confirmed to IPE today the firm will pay an additional amount to pensioners in April.

The spokesman could not say how much would be paid, though German media reports speculated in December the carmaker would have to make a one-off payment of at least €40m.

According to the reports, Opel has agreed to make the payments following a ruling by the German federal labour court in 1993, in which companies are obliged to apply the same rights to white-collar and blue-collar workers.

The federal court ruled in 2002 the equality between both types of employees should also apply to pension arrangements.

It is unclear why the company has waited until now to make the additional payments, though Opel emphasised it would have made the added payments in any case, and these had been planned for April since last year.

The carmaker added the payments are made voluntarily. Opel has a voluntary corporate pension arrangement, where employees are not obliged to make a contribution.

Opel will pay top-ups to all blue-collar pensions have been receiving retirement income since 1993.

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