Job loss fears as Vauxhall plants sold

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The Vauxhall Astra has been made at the Ellesmere Port plant since 1981. Pic © Vauxhall

Workers at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant are facing an uncertain future after it was announced the company is to be sold for £1.9billion to PSA.

The French multinational, which owns Peugeot and Citroen, will take full control of the business alongside a plant and headquarters in Luton, Bedfordshire, in a move that will see more than 4,500 jobs put at risk.

General Motors Europe, which currently owns the plant, has not made a profit since 1999.

The sale will see PSA become the second largest automobile manufacturer in Europe, with 17% market share, behind Volkswagen.

In a statement, Carlos Tavares, the chairman of PSA’s managing board, said: “We respect all that Opel/Vauxhall’s talented people have achieved as well as the company’s fine brands and strong heritage.

“We intend to manage PSA and Opel/Vauxhall capitalising on their respective brand identities. Having already created together winning products for the European market, we know that Opel/Vauxhall is the right partner

“We are confident that the Opel/Vauxhall turnaround will significantly accelerate with our support, while respecting the commitments made by GM to the Opel/Vauxhall employees.”

Unite union general secretary Len McCluskey said it had been a “very difficult time for the workforce”, with uncertainty set to continue.

He said: “Now that General Motors has disposed of its UK sites, our focus switches to working with the new owners to persuade them of the evident merits of our plants and this excellent, loyal workforce.

“I am determined that we can convince the new boss, Mr Tavares, that it makes sense for him to continue to build in Britain. Our plants are the most productive in the European operation, the brand is strong here, the market for the products is here, so the cars must be made here.”

YouTube: 50 years of Vauxhalls at Ellesmere Port

However, Justin Madders, MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, insisted that jobs would be safe at least for another four years. He said: “It is important to note that we have already had assurances from PSA that existing production runs will be guaranteed which will mean jobs are protected until around 2021. This in reality is little different to the position we would have been in had GM remained as owners.

“There have been significant challenges faced in the past, but thanks to great work between the union and management at Ellesmere Port those threats have been overcome so we must draw strength from previous success.

“There is no doubt that we have some of the most efficient plants in Europe so we have a good tale to tell and we should not underestimate the positive impact on sales that having a UK manufacturing base brings. There should be no doubt that one of the biggest selling points to UK consumers is that Vauxhall is a British brand that supports British jobs.”

Twitter: Nick Bunkley

About Rhys Edmondson, JMU Journalism