Government ‘wants talks’ with French group over future of UK car workers

Time 4:22 pm, February 15, 2017

THE Government is understood to be seeking crunch talks with Peugeot-owner PSA Group as fears grow over the future of thousands of British jobs at Vauxhall.

Business secretary Greg Clark, pictured, wants to speak with the French automotive giant at the earliest opportunity following news that General Motors (GM) could sell Vauxhall and Opel to PSA Group, Car Dealer has learned via the Press Association.

It comes after Clark spoke to GM president Dan Ammann on Tuesday to raise concerns about a potential acquisition of Opel Vauxhall.

Vauxhall employs 4,500 staff at plants in Ellesmere Port and Luton, with a further 300 people working in a customer contact centre and 120 at its OnStar headquarters.

Around 23,000 people also work in Vauxhall’s retail network, while 7,000 jobs rely on the firm’s UK supply chain.

According to reports, GM chief executive Mary Barra has flown to Germany in a bid to head off union concerns over potential job losses at Opel.

PSA chief executive Carlos Tavares is also looking to meet with the German chancellor Angela Merkel and union representatives this week as he looks to push the deal through, according to the Financial Times.

No assurance

Such a deal would see GM exit UK and Europe, while transforming PSA Group into Europe’s second-largest carmaker with a 16 per cent share of the European market.

The US motor giant behind Chevrolet and Cadillac has acknowledged talks were taking place, but cautioned that ‘there can be no assurance that an agreement will be reached’.

Unite general Len McCluskey has called on the Government to extend the assurances offered to Nissan over Brexit to the rest of the UK car industry to help secure jobs at Vauxhall.

Following a meeting with Clark, McCluskey said Unite had stressed to the government that it ‘will not accept any job losses or plant closures as a result of this move’.

He said Vauxhall’s UK plants must be offered the same level of certainty over their future as Nissan.

A spokeswoman for the Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy declined to comment on potential talks between Mr Clark and PSA Group.

She added: ‘The UK’s automotive sector is one of the most productive in the world and we want to see it go from strength to strength. The government will continue to make the case for keeping manufacturing in the UK.’

MORE: Peugeot owner PSA Group in talks to buy Vauxhall and Opel from GM

MORE: Assurances sought on UK jobs as GM mulls sale of Vauxhall and Opel

MORE: Crisis talks held as fears grow for thousands of Vauxhall jobs

MORE: Don’t let takeover talk distract you from your work, Vauxhall staff told

MORE: Comment: Could Peugeot kill off the Vauxhall brand?

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