(Photo: Barcroft Media)
MPs call on the Government to protect hundreds of jobs at Vauxhall after the company is sold by GM to the French PSA group.
The sale has thrown into doubt the future of workers at Vauxhall’s Luton and Ellesmere Port plants.
Labour’s Justin Madders will meet Business Secretary Greg Clark today to demand action to safeguard the factories.
“With the country now facing new trading arrangements after Brexit this is the first test of the Government’s commitment to supporting U.K. manufacturing in the new world,” Madders said.
The Prime Minister spoke by phone with General Motors chief executive Mary Barra on Sunday, when the company boss outlined the plan to sell.
A No 10 spokesman said: “This followed a conversation with Carlos Tavares, chairman of PSA Peugeot-Citroen, in which they discussed their shared desire to protect and promote the jobs at the Ellesmere Port and Luton plants.
“The Prime Minister set out to Ms Barra the importance of the Vauxhall brand to the UK and reiterated her desire for the jobs at both plants to be secured for the long term.
“Ms Barra made clear that Vauxhall would remain a British brand and that the deal would recognise and respect all agreements regarding the workforce.
“Both the Prime Minister and Ms Barra expressed their confidence that the deal had the potential to strengthen the Vauxhall brand and allow for further growth, supported by the Government’s Industrial Strategy and the continued strength of the automotive sector in the UK.”
Theresa May’s spokesman said today: “What we have been keen to stress is our long term commitment to ensuring the competitiveness of the car industry and that is the message that we have sent to them.
“Through the modern industrial strategy, we have said we will remain one of the most competitive locations in the world.
“The company themselves have said that Brexit was not the driving factor behind the decision.”
The firm “has a long history of success in this country”, he said, adding: “The PM has been clear, as has the Business Secretary in talks that have taken place with the company, that we want that success to continue.”
He highlighted PSA’s assurance to “respect the commitments that were made by GM to Vauxhall’s employees and its pensioners”.
The spokesman added: “We are known as world beating for automobile technology and that will remain the case.
“That makes us attractive.”
Asked about specific assurances for PSA, he said there had been “none sought, none given”.
Labour MP for Ellesmere Port, Justin Madders, said: “Whilst there has been a lot of media speculation about the future of the plant and the risk to jobs as a result of this merger, it is important to note that we have already had assurances from PSA that existing production runs will be guaranteed which will mean jobs are protected until around 2021.
“This in reality is little different to the position we would have been in had GM remained as owners.
“Now the new owners are in place, clearly work must begin in earnest to put UK production in the best possible position.
“There have been significant challenges faced in the past but thanks to great work between the union and management at Ellesmere Port those threats have been overcome so we must draw strength from previous success.
“There is no doubt that we have some of the most efficient plants in Europe so we have a good tale to tell and we should not underestimate the positive impact on sales having a U.K. manufacturing base brings.
“There should be no doubt that one of the biggest selling points to UK consumers is that Vauxhall is a British brand that supports British jobs.
“That is something that I know will be stressed to PSA.
“With the country now facing new trading arrangements after Brexit this is the first test of the Government’s commitment to supporting UK manufacturing in the new world.”
The MP met Business Secretary Greg Clark today where he stressed “the need for the Government to commit to doing whatever it takes to protect British jobs”.
Mr Madders added: “I will do whatever I can and expect nothing less from the Government.”
Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said: “It is welcome that a deal has been done to secure a new owner for Vauxhall.
“However, there is still uncertainty about the future of jobs at Vauxhall, despite its efficiency and highly skilled workforce.
“There are bound to be cut-backs, and with the British government unable to guarantee car makers they will have access to the single market post- Brexit , the danger is that jobs will be cut in the UK rather than in Germany or France.
“If an entire plant is closed, a factory in a Britain locked out of Europe is going to be vulnerable.”