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Union seeks assurance over UK car plant jobs

Fears about the future of car production in the UK have prompted the head of a leading trade union to tour two major vehicle manufacturing facilities.

Derek Simpson, Amicus general secretary, visited Vauxhall in Ellesmere Port and Land Rover in Solihull and called on both carmakers to issue assurances over their futures.

Vauxhall assembles GM's V6 petrol engine at Ellesmere Port which is threatened with possible closure at the end of 2005, putting more than 140 jobs on the line. In total, 450 manufacturing posts have been lost there since January 2003 and Simpson says more cuts will reduce the plant's capability.

“The company needs to give its assurances as to the long-term future for V6 engine production and the press unit at Ellesmere Port,” says Simpson.

At Solihull he discussed future models and long-term employment prospects. It follows Land Rover's decision to build the Freelander replacement at Jaguar's Halewood, Liverpool, plant.

“The company is investing in new facilities and we intend to work closely with them to ensure that this results in the maximum number of long-term job opportunities,” Simpson says.

The visits came after French carmaker Peugeot decided to axe the fourth shift at its Ryton factory placing more than 700 jobs at risk. A fourth shift was introduced in 2002 to cope with growing demand for the 206 supermini, but sales have now slumped.

Dave Osborne, Transport and General Workers Union national secretary for the car industry, says the news is extremely disappointing. He adds the Ryton workforce and unions have done a great amount to sustain the shift, and says the TGWU will do all it can to minimise compulsory job losses.

Peugeot workers facing redundancy will have the union's full backing if they take direct action such as strikes or sit-ins, he warns.

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