Pay vote clears the way for Ellesmere Port Vauxhall investment


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The Independent Online

Vauxhall car workers have voted massively in favour of a new pay and conditions deal which clears the way for huge new investment in the UK motor industry.

Members of the Unite union at the firm's plant in Ellesmere Port on Merseyside backed the package by 94 per cent after voting over the past few days.

The final votes were announced today, ahead of an expected announcement that the plant will build the next generation of the Vauxhall Astra model.

The move will create hundreds of new jobs at the site, where a third shift will be added, guaranteeing work for years ahead.

"We have done our bit and accepted the proposals, which will hopefully secure the future of the factory for many years," one worker said.

The union vote is set to lead to an announcement from Vauxhall later this morning that the new Astra will be built in Ellesmere Port later this decade, creating several hundred jobs at the plant and many more in supply firms.

There had been speculation earlier this year that the plant could miss out on future investment by Vauxhall's American owners General Motors, threatening heavy job losses.

Business Secretary Vince Cable, and officials from the Unite union, have been lobbying the car firm for months in a bid to attract new investment.

Mr Cable said: "Huge efforts have been made to try to secure the future of the Vauxhall plant at Ellesmere Port and the Government has played an important role in making the progress we have so far."

The minister, who is in Ellesmere Port for the later announcement, told BBC News that recent lobbying of General Motors had been a "very good team effort", involving the Government, the company and the unions.

Mr Cable said that when he met GM officials in the United States as part of his efforts to secure investment for Ellesmere Port, he stressed that the UK was a good place for the motor industry to do business.

He praised the "committed" workforce, which he said was willing to embrace flexible working arrangements.

"The Americans were very impressed with the message," he said.

Ellesmere Port builds the Astra Sports Tourer, making 140,000 models last year. The plant, which employs 2,100 workers, was built in 1962, producing its first car, a Viva, two years later.

A decision to build the new Astra in the UK will hit GM's factory in Bochum, Germany.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey welcomed the union vote, adding: "This is extremely good news for Ellesmere Port. The company has made an offer to the workforce, which our members have accepted.

"From a position of uncertainty earlier this year, there is now a potential for a future at the plant until 2020 and beyond, and with that 700 new skilled jobs at Ellesmere Port itself, and possibly hundreds more in the supply chain.

"Importantly this move will also bring component supplier plants back into the UK, a development that strengthens our manufacturing base generally.

"However, we are very aware that this offer has implications for colleagues across General Motors. We will continue now to talk about the implications as a consequence of our members' decision with our partners in Europe and the company's management."