Vauxhall future: Labour turns up heat on Greg Clark over Ellesmere Port jobs

There have been fears that of the sale of GM's loss-making European operations goes through Peugeot-PSA may cut jobs in the UK, where 4,500 workers are employed at Ellesmere Port and Luton

Mr Clarke arranged an emergency meeting with GM's president Dan Amman on Thursday after the company announced it was in talks to sell its European subsidiary, Opel, which includes Vauxhall
Mr Clarke arranged an emergency meeting with GM's president Dan Amman on Thursday after the company announced it was in talks to sell its European subsidiary, Opel, which includes Vauxhall

The Labour Party is turning up the pressure on the Government over the fate of Vauxhall workers as General Motors prepares to sell its European business to Peugeot-PSA.

Last week Greg Clark, the Business Secretary, travelled to Paris and offered the potential new owners Nissan-style guarantees over the post-Brexit terms of trade of its UK car plants.

There have been fears that if the sale of GM's loss-making European operations goes through Peugeot-PSA may cut jobs in the UK, where 4,500 workers are employed at Ellesmere Port and Luton.

Mr Clark's Labour counterpart, Rebecca Long-Bailey, wrote to Mr Clark on Monday urging him to guarantee that the jobs and conditions of Vauxhall workers would be protected in the event of a sale. She is also raising the matter in an urgent question in the House of Commons.

“These reports are deeply worrying to the 4,500 workers employed at Vauxhall’s Luton and Ellesmere Port plants, and to the tens of thousands of employees in its retail, support and supply chain operations," Ms Long-Bailey said.

“PSA’s history of axing jobs in the name of rationalisation are also concerning. Britain’s automotive industry has become a world-leader by developing its skilled and highly-committed workforce and becoming more productive, not by ruthlessly driving down costs.”

The French government has a 14 per cent stake in PSA and there are concerns that political pressure could be applied to prioritise jobs in France.

Last year Nissan said it would go ahead with plans to build its next Qashqai and X-Trail models in Sunderland, in a boost for the prospects of thousands of workers in the North-east, after the Government said the car manufacturer's competitiveness would not be damaged by Brexit.

But Nissan's boss, Carlos Ghosn, said last month he would “re-evaluate” the situation when the final deal emerged, raising the prospect that the investment could still be at risk.

UK car manufacturers are alarmed at the prospect of the UK falling out of the EU customs union because they export more than half of their automobiles to the EU and have complex cross-border supply chains.

Theresa May confirmed last month that the UK would leave the customs union but that she would seek to establish a new “customs agreement” with the 27 other EU nations to minimise disruption for UK exporters, although there have been no details provided over what this would be.

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