FEARS for the future of Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant were raised by union leaders today (Wednesday) as its parent company General Motors fought against the prospect of bankruptcy.
Tony Woodley, Unite the Union joint general secretary and former Ellesmere Port union convenor, warned that General Motors was “not too big to fail”.
And he said even if it entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in America it would have “an immediate effect” on the Vauxhall plants at Ellesmere Port and Luton employing almost 4,000 staff.
Mr Woodley said: “I don’t think anything is too big to fail.
“It’s a question that it’s too important both for historical and real corporate capital sense that GM must not be seen to fail in the States.”
He is trying to work with his American counterpart Ron Gettelfinger on a co-ordinated response to try to save the giant car maker, which last week appealed to the US government for a bail-out of almost £32bn for the US car industry.
Ellesmere Port employs about 2,200 staff and is poised to build the new Astra from next September. But parent company GM said it was seeking to avoid bankruptcy by saving $20bn through cost cutting and asset sales.
And a car industry expert warned today that the Cheshire plant could be sacrificed as part of those cutbacks.
Prof Garel Rhys, director of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff Business School, said GM could consider shutting one of its European plants and Ellesmere Port could be second on their list.
GM announced today that it was suspending production at its five South Korean plants for about two weeks from late December.
Union leaders from Ellesmere Port travelled to GM’s European headquarters in Germany at the weekend to discuss cutbacks.