FEARS that Ellesmere Port’s Vauxhall plant could shut by 2016, with the loss of 2,000 jobs, have been dismissed.
German auto industry unions claim to have seen papers from Fiat - which is negotiating a possible take-over of Vauxhall’s parent company General Motors Europe - that outline plans to close its two UK car plants here and in Luton.
Unite union leader, and former Vauxhall Ellesmere Port worker, Tony Woodley has dismissed this latest speculation, saying he simply “didn’t believe it”.
But he is still liaising with Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s office in a bid to set up talks with Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne to secure the future of the UK sites.
Mr Marchionne held talks with the German government and German auto unions leader Klaus Franz last week about Fiat’s proposed takeover of GM Europe, which includes several German car and engine plants.
But the UK government has not been involved.
Little Sutton resident Mr Woodley, joint general secretary of Unite the Union, said: “I am in daily contact with the Government and No 10 about talks with Mr Marchionne. I don’t believe these reports.
“But knowing that Britain is the one country in Europe where it is easier and quicker to close plants, you can never say never.”
GM also has production sites in Spain and the UK, and Mr Woodley said: “My concern isn’t whether the speculation is right or wrong.
“My concern is, why is it the British Government is on the outside looking in when this fellow has got to meet the German Government and German unions?
“The UK has not got as many GM plants as Germany, but we are entitled to be at the table when discussions are going on, not after they have taken place.”
German union leader Klaus Franz voiced his concerns at Fiat’s proposals after meeting Mr Marchionne, describing the plan as “an all-or-nothing bet”
At least seven other parties are understood to be interested in buying GM Europe, and Mr Woodley believes a Fiat takeover would be detrimental for GM’s UK workforce.
Ellesmere Port employs 2,200 staff making the Astra.
Workers are on short-term working and have been offered sabbaticals due to falling orders.
But the plant will add a third shift in September when it begins production of the new Astra.