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Opinion: Peugeot should treat unions’ plan seriously

“The trade unions alternative business case for Ryton has very powerful reasons why it should be treated seriously by Peugeot and other interested parties.

“The unions are offering a dramatically innovative package of new working practices which would result in significant increases in efficiency and productivity which would reinforce Ryton’s already impressive performance and profitability.

“Independent figures show that Ryton’s output per man at full production is one of the best in the PSA Empire. This together with the damage that PSA has done to the cost per car by reducing Ryton’s plant utilisation since 2003 leaves one sceptical about their calculations concerning cost penalties in the UK.

“With the right product and attitude other car makers have shown what a good production base the UK can be. PSA’s attempt to justify their retreat is damaging not just to the auto sector but also the international perception of UK manufacturing as a whole.

“The torrent of investment into Slovakia which means by 2010 they will make more cars per head than any other country indicates a pressure on resources of all kinds but especially labour.

Consequently the country is likely to experience much worse wage inflation than the UK so the main attraction of Slovakia which is lower wages will be short-lived. In addition the country will be subject to much tighter state aid rules.

“A major element of PSA’s current worries is the decline in their share of the European market. If a consumer boycott occurs in the UK which is one of their main markets this will only intensify their problems. In the final analysis the nature of PSA’s intended evacuation from the UK is quite different to other recent plant closures when the firms involved took steps to reinforce other UK based operations.

“The contribution of Ryton to PSA's profitability other the last 25 years demands that they show a willingness to cooperate in any efforts to retain what is a viable, sustainable and profitable plant.”

  • The statement from Professor Rhys was released by joint trade unions at Peugeot, the Transport and General Workers Union and Amicus. They both welcomed the comment.

    Professor Rhys was asked to study the alternative plan to keep Peugeot manufacturing in the UK, which was put forward in May this year.

    What do you think? Email the AM editorial team on with your opinions.

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