Advertisements

Minister upbeat on Vauxhall’s UK future

The business secretary Greg Clark has told MPs “we start from a position of strength”, as Vauxhall workers fret over a potential takeover by Peugeot (PSA) amid uncertainty over the UK‘s future outside the EU.

He was responding to an urgent question in the Commons from Labour MP Justin Madders, whose constituency includes Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant.

Mr Clark sought to reassure the 40,000 employed directly or indirectly by the UK brand – owned by General Motors – that PSA had already given positive signals by stating “pride” in the management team’s record never to have closed a factory.

He admitted that while PSA was not yet in a position to give commitments, given the lack of any takeover deal for General Motors Europe (GM Europe), board members valued the Vauxhall brand and its position in the UK market.

Vauxhall employs 4,500 workers at plants in Luton and Ellesmere Port
Video: PM to meet Peugeot boss amid jobs fears

The minister was speaking as the German government produced similar noises following its own talks with executives of GM, which produces Opel-branded vehicles in Germany, PSA and French government officials.

GM Europe is loss-making and there are fears cutbacks will have to be made somewhere by any new owners.

At the forefront of the concerns, expressed by some MPs, is that Britain’s decision to leave the EU could lead to trade tariffs – damaging Vauxhall’s competitiveness.

Vauxhall and Opel Astras are constructed on the production line in the Vauxhall factory in Ellesmere Port, north-west England
Video: Brexit adds ‘dimension of uncertainty’ to GM negotiations

It announced last year that it would raise UK car prices by 2.5% to deal with the “speed bump” Brexit had presented to its plans.

It also has a pension deficit, which the news agency Reuters – citing sources – has reported at £1bn.

Mr Clark pledged an “unbounding commitment” to protect Vauxhall jobs – not only at the Luton and Ellesmere Port factories but at the firm’s retail outlets nationwide.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey
Video: Union boss McCluskey on General Motors talks

He argued that while Vauxhall’s factories were very efficient, in terms of both technology, personnel and output, he added: “We have a very strong domestic market and Vauxhall has a large share of that – something PSA recognises.”

PSA chief executive Carlos Tavares is due in London on Friday for talks with Mr Clark. It is believed he will also meet Unite union general secretary Len McCluskey.

It is not yet known whether Mr Tavares will speak to the Prime Minister then but the Unite boss has already said he would use his own talks to “press the case for the UK’s world class facilities and workforce”.

He added he would ensure PSA “understands fully that…thousands of dedicated UK workers deserve a strong backer and a positive future.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply