Peugeot dealers suspect the unions of being politically motivated in continuing their protests.
Amicus and the Transport and General Workers Union have ramped up their campaign to make PSA Peugeot Citroën reconsider its closure plan for its Ryton plant in Coventry, despite Ryton workers voting against a strike and welcoming generous redundancy options proposed by PSA.
Last Friday (June 9) the unions began a £1m advertising campaign in the Daily Mirror and The Guardian, asking readers to support Britain’s car industry.
PSA UK director of corporate communications Jon Goodman told AM the unions’ action is “staggering”. He condemns them for targeting “dealerships just going about their business”, adding: “They don’t realize they may put jobs at risk by trying to reduce sales.”
AM asked Goodman what support PSA will give dealers if the boycott is successful and their sales decline. He refuses to comment, saying he will “not deal with supposition”.
Goodman also says that details of any support PSA is providing dealers in the east Midlands “is between us and them”.
On the showroom floor it is a different matter. Customers are quizzing their dealers about the Ryton decision, and in the days immediately following the announcement, a small number cancelled orders.
“The network is very concerned about this issue,” says the dealer principal at one Midlands Peugeot dealership. “But we’re also concerned by the lack of response from Peugeot’s PR department.
“My worry is that there’s an understanding by the public that we have an industrial dispute in the background. How that’s going to affect our car sales we can only guess.”
The dealer also questions the union’s motives for pursuing the Ryton campaign. He believes they merely want to demonstrate their political power.
Peugeot GB managing director Pierre-Louis Colin is also tight-lipped about whether his team will assist dealers. “The unions’ protest has been a limited problem, but for me it’s not a concern for the Peugeot brand in the UK,” he adds.