Vauxhall workers kept in the dark over factory future

By Tom Wiltshire

Workers at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant will have to wait until Brexit negotiations are over and the outcome is known before finding out their fates, says the manufacturer.

After Honda announced the closure of its Swindon plant with the loss of 3,500 jobs earlier this week, workers at the Vauxhall plant in Cheshire were understandably concerned for their own security.

The plant already saw the loss of 241 jobs back in November, sparking worker walkouts.

(PA)

However, Vauxhall is unwilling to provide assurances to staff until it knows the outcome of the UK’s negotiations on a potential future deal with the EU following Brexit.

In a statement, the brand, which is now owned by the French conglomerate PSA Group, said: “As previously stated, no decision about the future of Ellesmere Port will be taken until the outcome of Brexit negotiations is known. Vauxhall continues to work with all partners to improve the competitiveness of the plant.”

It’s not just Vauxhall and Honda that have been forced to cut jobs. Jaguar Land Rover announced job cuts of 4,500 in the UK, citing concerns over Brexit, slow down in customer demand for diesel vehicles (an engine technology the brand is heavily invested in) and a drop in sales in China.

Ford, meanwhile, will cut thousands of jobs across mainland Europe including up to a thousand at its Bridgend engine plant in a major restructuring plan that aims to return the brand to profitability.

A statement from the workers’ union Unite said that it would work closely with Vauxhall to try and keep the plant competitive enough to remain open.

Regional officer Mick Chalmers said: “The statement from PSA [Vauxhall] underlines why the government must ensure that when we leave the European Union that frictionless trade is guaranteed in the long-term. A failure by the government to do so would be a betrayal to the workers at Ellesmere Port and the entire automotive industry.

“Unite intends to fully engage with the PSA management in their feasibility studies to examine how the plant can become more competitive. The UK is a major market for PSA’s vehicles and workers and customers expect that loyalty to be repaid.”

The Union previously warned that the plant would face “death by a thousand cuts” unless PSA Group made moves to guarantee its future profitability. It’s been suggested that global sales of models such as the Astra, which is currently the sole car built at Ellesmere Port, are failing, leaving the plant to struggle.

Analysts have suggested that producing a globally successful crossover model in the plant would help revive it – a move similar to Land Rover’s commitment to build the popular Evoque at its Halewood plant, guaranteeing its medium-term future.