Len McCluskey has warned Peugeot-owner PSA that attempts to close the Vauxhall plant at Ellesmere Port will result in Unite making sure “their UK market is finished for good”.
Unite’s general secretary said on Twitter that he will meet with PSA chief executive Carlos Tavares in the next two weeks to tell him that the union “will not allow PSA to close a healthy UK plant”.
McCluskey said, “PSA says there needs to be changes for Ellesmere Port to remain. If they commit to a new model then we will sit down and talk about change. Otherwise Unite will not allow them to continue to enjoy their healthy share of the UK market.”
On Monday, Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port workers were informed the carmaker was seeking 250 additional redundancies on top of the 400 announced last October – more than a third of the 1,800 strong workforce.
PSA said it needs to “accelerate the recovery of plant productivity in order to meet the challenges ahead”.
Meanwhile Unite has said a “landmark” deal between the government and the automotive industry “does not go far enough” in the face of Brexit uncertainty and the Ellesmere Port job losses.
The deal, announced by business and energy secretary Gregg Clark, consists of joint investment and far-reaching commitments between government and industry, focusing on areas such as autonomous vehicles, battery technologies and the manufacture of low and zero emission vehicles.
The government is ploughing £26.4m into the scheme, investment that will be equalled by industry – with contributions from Ford, GKN and Jaguar Land Rover – to total £52.8m.
Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said the union welcomed any new investment in the UK’s “world class car industry” but warned it was not enough.
“Against a backdrop of continued Brexit uncertainty and job losses at Ellesmere Port, we demand that the government goes further. We need a proper long-term plan for the automotive sector with union involvement that includes a ‘just transition’ plan for workers in the diesel and the traditional supply chain,” Burke said.
“If the UK’s automotive sector is to retain its world leading status, then government must do more to support firms in the supply chain so they can re-tool, re-invest and re-skill workers for the next generation of components.”
He added, “In the coming weeks Unite will be publishing our sector plan for electric vehicles along with a plan for diesel and emissions.”