Unions urge Vauxhall talks amid job fears

Author: By Alan Jones, Press Association

Tony Woodley, joint leader of Unite said he had “growing concerns”
over the future plans of Canadian car parts giant Magna, which is buying the
European business of General Motors, including the two Vauxhall plants at
Ellesmere Port and Luton.

A report in a German newspaper today claimed that Magna had plans to cut 1,400
jobs at Luton and Ellesmere Port, although it made clear that no final
decision had been taken and that discussions were continuing.

Mr Woodley repeated a warning he gave at the TUC Congress in Liverpool last
week, saying: “At last the truth is out about Magna’s intention towards
the UK plants at Ellesmere Port and Luton. If these plans to slash jobs at
both sites and cut the volume of cars produced at Ellesmere Port are pushed
through, then make no mistake, Vauxhall will cease to operate in this
country in six years time.

“We need an urgent discussion with Magna, along with our government, so
that it can be made crystal clear to the company that their plans are
unacceptable not just in terms of the survival of Vauxhall, but to the safe
future of the entire UK car industry.

“Unite’s concerns over Magna’s plans are growing as it becomes clear that
the cuts will not be shared fairly across GM’s EU plants. Some 50 per cent
of the UK workforce would lose their jobs, while only 16 per cent in Germany
would go.

“Unite also believes that Magna’s plans would safeguard a long-term
future for the German plans while running down the UK operation.”

John Cooper, senior union official at Ellesmere Port, has warned that Magna’s
business plan involved cutting 830 jobs at the plant.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown toured the Ellesmere Port factory ahead of his
speech to the TUC last week, saying: “We are putting our faith in the
future of Ellesmere Port, we are putting our faith in the future of the new
model (Vauxhall) Astra that is about to appear.”

Mr Woodley later told BBC News that the sale to Magna had been a “political
stitch-up” because of the money offered to GM by the German government.

Countries with GM plants, other than Germany, were set to lose out “big time”,
with job cuts threatened in Spain and Belgium as well as the UK, he said.

“This is a wake-up call for Europe because we cannot allow this disgraceful
political stitch-up to continue. There is no doubt there will have to be
rationalising of plants, but you have to share the pain.

“We have asked our Government to continue their efforts and we are demanding a
meeting with Magna.”

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