Workers at one of Britain’s largest car plants are facing new concerns about their future as General Motors considers restructuring its loss-making European arm with “everything on the table”.
By Graham Ruddick
12:15AM GMT 09 Feb 2012
Sources close to GM Europe say the company is suffering from “overcapacity” as carmakers endure a slowdown in European sales.
However, the sources said reports from the US that GM is planning to close the Vauxhall plant at Ellesmere Port, Merseyside, which employs more than 2,000 people, and a plant at Bochum in Germany are “speculation”.
Unions in Germany representing GM’s European brands, Opel and Vauxhall, said they have “no indications” that the American car maker plans to reverse a pledge that it will not close plants in Europe before the end of 2014.
Nonetheless, Karl-Friedrich Stracke, the chief executive of Opel and Vauxhall, is understood to have told employees in a letter that cuts do need to be made by the company and they will be informed of the measures after annual results are published next week.
Ellesmere Port produces the Vauxhall Astra and is regarded as one of the most efficient plants in Europe.
However, GM has failed to turnaround its loss-making European arm since scrapping a sale to Canadian car parts group Magna in 2009.
The potential sale of Opel and Vauxhall caused a transatlantic row as unions, German leader Angela Merkel and Gordon Brown’s Labour government attempted to save workers.
After scrapping the sale to Magna, GM cut 9,000 jobs and closed a plant in Antwerp, Belgium. However, the company made far deeper cuts in the US as it went through a radical restructuring in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.