Patriotic workers are feeling glum after bosses at Luton’s Vauxhall factory refused permission for them to watch England’s semi-final match against Croatia this evening.
Despite Vauxhall’s £6million annual sponsorship of the England team over the past seven years, factory hands say they have been refused any chance of watching the match.
The decision is understood to affect around 1,000 workers.
One man said: “It’s pretty disgusting really. We’ve offered to work flexi, doing more hours on other shifts or work overtime next week, and they’ve still said no.
“It has happened before at other matches but this is a huge thing for England. We haven’t reached the semi-finals of the World Cup since 1990.
“Even if you’re not that patriotic, you should feel just a bit of pride! We’re feeling pretty down and out at the moment.”
After losing the last semi-final to West Germany in 1990, the England team were greeted to a heroes’ welcome at Luton Airport and paraded through the town centre in an open top bus.
A Vauxhall spokesman said: “Vauxhall Motors fully understands the enthusiasm shown by its employees for tonight’ World Cup semi-final match.
“A proposal was received for tonight’s shift to finish early, and for employees to make up the time lost through working extra time each day, up to July 26. However, a number of people from this shift have already booked holidays during this period, meaning that the extra time would not be made up in full and that in turn would result in lines stopped, and lost production.
“Importantly, not everyone at the plant supports football but these people would still be affected by a reduced shift and the extra time required to the end of the month. Clearly this is unfair for them and their families.
“While supporting our national football team is important – and Vauxhall of course wishes England all the best this evening – maintaining production of the Luton-built Vivaro is vital, so that customer deliveries are not impacted. For that reason, Vauxhall will be maintaining its current shift times this evening.”