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More bad news: it’s Vauxhall’s turn

The future of Ellesmere Port has been thrown into doubt after GM announced more than 900 jobs will be axed at the Vauxhall plant – home to five generations of the Astra and Astravan.

Unions are fighting the redundancies, which will reduce the Ellesmere workforce to less than 2,000.

They come on the back of the closure of Peugeot’s Ryton factory, the probable shutdown of TVR’s Blackpool facility and doubts over Ford’s ability to keep any car production in the UK.

Vauxhall UK chairman Jonathan Browning says the action had been taken to “improve the competitiveness of Ellesmere”. But he adds there is more work to do to secure the plant’s long-term future.

Ellesmere started production in 1962 and was, at its peak, the region’s largest employer, with 3,500 workers turning out 185,000 vehicles a year. Daily shifts on Astra and Vectra have now been reduced from three to two.

Vectra switched from GM’s Luton facility to Ellesmere in 2002, bringing with it a £200m investment to enable the factory to vary production. Until recently it was flagged up as GM’s most productive European plant. The multinational carmaker now says it is Europe’s most costly, but it is still in the running for the next generation Astra.

Other plants in the running include Saab’s Trollheim plant, as outlined in AM (March 10).

Transport and General Workers’ Union general secretary Tony Woodley says: “This cut to a productive and successful plant, GM’s most improved plant in Europe, is because GM can sack our people on the cheap.”

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