A major announcement for Luton’s job market was made today that General Motors sold its European car interests to the French PSA Group – including the sites at Toddington, Luton and Ellesmere Port, in a deal worth £1.9bn.
Business Secretary Greg Clark suggested the deal was not the death knell for the UK plants.
He said: “Vauxhall has a long history of success in this country and we are determined to see that continue. The Government welcomes the assurance by PSA that they will respect the commitments made by GM to Vauxhall’s employees and pensioners.
“The Prime Minister and I have been in close contact with the PSA Group and General Motors and they have been clear this deal is an opportunity to grow the Vauxhall brand, building on their existing strengths and commitments.”
Unite, the country’s biggest union, has claimed a “fight” begins now to secure a future for the plants.
Even though General Motors’ sale brings to an end 35 years of manufacturing in the UK, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey claims the UK plants are the most productive in the company’s stable.
Mr McCluskey said: “This has obviously been a very difficult time for the workforce, but their union has been and will continue to work day and night to fight for their interests.
“Now that General Motors has disposed of its UK sites, our focus switches to working with the new owners to persuade them of the evident merits of our plants and this excellent, loyal workforce.
“I am determined that we can convince the new boss, Mr Tavares, that it makes sense for him to continue to build in Britain. Our plants are the most productive in the European operation, the brand is strong here, the market for the products is here, so the cars must be made here.”
Mr McCluskey urged the government to step up a deal to secure a future for the plans. In this, he was joined by Bedfordshire MEP Alex Mayer, who claimed that the government’s Brexit plan was “hazardous for jobs”.
Ms Mayer stated: “The lie that you can go it alone is exposed when you know that 66% of Vivaro vans are sold for export and 60 percent of the vehicle’s parts are made outside Britain.
“Theresa May needs to stop kowtowing to the zealous hard right Brexiteers who put ideology before jobs. People in Luton, urgently need to hear from the government that they will fight every step of the way to retain access to the vital single market upon which local jobs depend.”
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