THE decision by General Motors (GM) to scrap the sale of Vauxhall to Canadian car parts firm Magna could benefit the Ellesmere Port plant in the long run.
Union chiefs have been quick to welcome the move, while Ellesmere Port MP Andrew Miller is ‘optimistic’ that by dealing with the current owners it could further improve the North Road factory’s prospects.
GM announced on Tuesday night that it had called off the deal with Magna due to ‘an improving business environment’, as well as the importance of the Vauxhall brand to the future of the company.
The carmaker will unveil a restructuring plan for its European operations shortly.
Andrew Miller says that if GM sticks to its original business model, drawn up prior to the company filing for Chapter 11 (bankruptcy protection) in the US, a total of 180,000 cars would be built in Ellesmere Port, which could rise, compared to 147,500 proposed under the Magna deal.
He said: “Assuming we go back to the original plan, or something similar, Ellesmere Port is totally secure. What we want is a commitment to continue producing the next-generation vehicles.
“It opens the door even wider to argue our case with people who know the quality of the workforce in Ellesmere Port. I’m optimistic that this will bring about further improvements, but it is far from a done deal.”
John Featherston, Unite convenor at the Port plant, said: “I think the reaction at the plant will be it’s better the devil you know, but there’s another saying – the devil is in the detail.”
GM president and CEO Fritz Henderson said: “We understand the complexity and length of this issue has been draining for all involved. However, from the outset, our goal has been to secure the best long- term solution for our customers, employees, suppliers and dealers, which is reflected in the decision reached.”
Siegfried Wolf, Magna’s co-chief executive officer, said: “We understand that the board concluded that it was in GM’s best interests to retain Opel. We will continue to support Opel and GM in the challenges ahead.”