A major announcement for Luton’s job market was made today that General Motors sold its European car interests to the French PSA Group, including the sites at Toddington, Luton and Ellesmere Port, in a deal worth £1.9bn.
Unite, the country’s biggest union, has claimed a “fight” begins now to secure a future for the plants.
General Motors’ sale to the makers of Peugeot brings to an end 35 years of manufacturing in the UK, but Unite general secretary Len McCluskey has said the UK plants are the most productive in the company’s stable.
Mr McCluskey said: “This has obviously been a very difficult time for the workforce, but their union has been and will continue to work day and night to fight for their interests.
“Now that General Motors has disposed of its UK sites, our focus switches to working with the new owners to persuade them of the evident merits of our plants and this excellent, loyal workforce.
“I am determined that we can convince the new boss, Mr Tavares, that it makes sense for him to continue to build in Britain. Our plants are the most productive in the European operation, the brand is strong here, the market for the products is here, so the cars must be made here.
“But there is also a role for the government to play. The uncertainty caused by Brexit is harming the UK auto sector. Wednesday’s Budget is a perfect opportunity for the government to make is clear that it will preserve our trading arrangements and that it will invest for our auto sector’s future now, beginning with assistance for the reshoring of components.
“We need every assistance from the government to give this sector a fighting chance. That absolutely includes committing now to securing access to the single market and customs union. This is the signal that the car industry needs in order to know that the UK government values this sector.”
Commenting on the future of the GM pension scheme, Len McCluskey added: “I have sought and have received urgent assurances from the PSA Group and General Motors as to their intentions towards the pensions of the UK workforce.
“It is vital that those who have saved hard for their retirement receive the benefits to which they are entitled. Unite will not allow our members to lose out, not by a penny.”
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