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Vauxhall and Unite review COVID-19 safety measures at Ellesmere Port

Vauxhall Ellesmere Port

The PSA Group is set to complete a final review of COVID-19 coronavirus healthy working measures at its Ellesmere Port Vauxhall car manufacturing plant before deciding when to recommence production.

Following Volkswagen's announcement last week that it would re-start production in its Slovakian plants on April 20, before bringing other plants online gradually in-line with a 100-point safety plan, Vauxhall revealed that may also be poised to get back to work.

The re-start timing for the Astra hatchback-producing plant, which closed on March 17 and employs around 1,000 staff, will be assessed on week-by-week basis, the brand said in a statement.

It added: “Since the beginning of the Covid-19 health crisis, Groupe PSA’s priority has been to protect its employees and preserve the company's long-term future.

“During its closure, the Ellesmere Port site has remained ‘active’ and implemented a protocol of reinforced health measures.

“This protocol, now approved by Management, has been fully audited, in order to assess its implementation.

“Ellesmere Port’s Management team has invited Unite, representing plant employees, to make a final review of the safety protocols, before a resumption of manufacturing activity can begin.”

Vauxhall’s statement said that Ellesmere Port’s Trade Union, Unite, supports health measures enabling resumption of manufacturing activity and “has welcomed the opportunity” to review safety protocols.

Vauxhall’s COVID-19 health and safety protocol is said to comprise of more than 100 measures covering all the company's activities at industrial, administrative, R&D and commercial level.

Specifically developed for industrial sites, the protocol includes the checking of employees’ temperatures, in addition to their self-monitoring of symptoms.

The wearing of glasses on site is also supplemented by a daily individual supply of masks, Vauxhall said, along with respecting safe distances between people.

Measures include break areas with markings on the floor, keeping doors open (except fire doors) to avoid contact with handles, frequent cleaning of tools and work surfaces, waiting time when exchanging unprepared parts in a Groupe PSA (hand to hand) environment.

Vauxhall’s statement said that the industrial recovery schedule for Ellesmere Port had “not yet been specified”, adding that it would “take into account the operating capacity left to companies by public authorities to exercise their commercial and industrial activities”.

Last month PSA Group UK's Citroen, DS Automobiles and Peugeot managing director, Alison Jones, said that the OEM was planning around a 96% decline in new car sales during the UK's COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown.

Days earlier the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) had said that UK car manufacturers could produce over 200,000 fewer cars in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 coronavirus-prompted factory closures.

Production volumes declined 0.8% in February as exports to the US and Europe “fell substantially” in the month before the virus gripped Europe.

But the industry body warned that the impact of coronavirus had yet to be felt, stating that initial impact analysis suggests coronavirus could wipe more than 200,000 units off UK’s output in 2020, leaving a fully-year production total of just under 1.1 million – a fall of 18%.

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