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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 May 2006, 04:36 GMT 05:36 UK
Vauxhall unions vow to fight cuts
An England flag flying over Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant
Vauxhall warns the plant must further boost its productivity

Union members at Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant have unanimously rejected the voluntary redundancy package put forward by its owner, General Motors.

It comes after Vauxhall announced 900 job cuts at the Cheshire factory.

The Transport and General Workers Union and Amicus will also lobby against Peugeot's decision to close the Ryton factory, Coventry, and axe 2,300 jobs.

Union leaders are also calling on members of the public to boycott Vauxhall cars.

The unions had advised its members at the Vauxhall plant not to accept voluntary redundancy until the long-term future of the factory was secure.

'Devastating blow'

Derek Simpson, general secretary of Amicus, said: "The biggest threat to this company is if people in this country do not accept this kind of treatment by a global company.

"If this plant ever ceases to produce cars, ultimately we will advise people 'Don't buy Vauxhall'.

An anti-Peugeot advertising campaign is also being planned.

Job cuts at Vauxhall were confirmed after the company's management and officials from parent company General Motors met union leaders at the factory.

Mr Simpson said the decision was "another devastating blow to the car industry and UK manufacturing in general".

The government said it would do all it could to help staff find new jobs.

The 900 job cuts represent just under one-third of the plant's overall 3,000-strong workforce.

Vauxhall said it was switching from three to two shifts at the factory, which makes its Astra model.

It said the move reflected the "ongoing pressure" in the car industry to increase productivity and reduce costs.

Competitiveness 'issues'

Vauxhall chairman Jon Browning said the aim was to achieve the job losses at Ellesmere Port through voluntary redundancies.

"We will, of course, work together with our labour representatives to achieve a socially-responsible solution for the affected employees," he said.

"For the people at Ellesmere Port, this is by no means indicative of a lack of progress made locally over the past several years.

"Indeed there has been much progress. Quality and productivity have shown significant improvements, but the issue of long-term competitiveness remains.

UK CAR INDUSTRY
Produced 1.8m cars in 2005
UK also produces 3.1m engines
Half of all cars made by Toyota, Nissan, Honda
Nissan's Sunderland plant most productive in Europe
GM, Ford, VW, and BMW also major UK manufacturers
Jaguar, Peugeot, TVR and MG Rover have all closed plants

"We need to address this. This move will have positive effects on the cost structure of the plant."

But Tony Woodley, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, expressed dismay at the move.

"This plant, our industry and our country cannot afford to keep shedding skills like this," he said.

Vauxhall's parent company, General Motors, the biggest US car company, is also cutting 30,000 jobs in the US on the back of falling sales and profits.

Government help

Visiting Ellesmere Port ahead of the announcement, Chancellor Gordon Brown said he had travelled to the factory to offer any help the government could give.

"We will do what we can to help each and every one of the workforce who may be affected by this announcement to find other jobs in the area," he said.

Mr Brown added that the government wished to help both the company and the workers at Ellesmere Port secure the chance to build the next Astra model.

EUROPEAN MOTOR VEHICLE PRODUCTION
Selected countries, ordered according to 2005 figures
2003 2004 2005 Change 2004/ 05
Germany 5,506,629 5,569,954 5,757,710 3.40%
France 3,620,053 3,665,990 3,549,003 -3.20%
Spain 3,029,826 3,011,776 2,752,500 -8.60%
UK 1,846,429 1,851,589 1,803,049 -2.60%
Italy 1,321,631 1,142,105 1,038,352 -9.10%
Czech Rep. 441,717 448,106 604,930 35.00%
Poland n/a 522,900 540,200 3.30%
Slovak Rep. 281,165 223,542 218,173 -2.40%
Netherlands 192,634 247,503 180,568 -27.00%
Hungary 126,296 122,661 138,918 13.30%
Finland 19,658 10,510 21,644 105.90%
Source: European Automobile Manufacturers' Association


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Workers react to the job losses



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