Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port factory ‘is safe’ General Motors assure
ELLESMERE Port’s Vauxhall factory has a strong future and is not threatened with imminent closure, parent company General Motors said last night.
Fears had grown after Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley last week said an unnamed UK car plant was in need of “serious financial help” and would close “within just a couple of days” without it.
Yesterday reports suggested that plant could be Ellesmere Port, which employs more than 2,000 workers.
But last night GM director of communications for the UK and Ireland Dennis Chick said: “It’s absolute rubbish. We are in business and we will continue to be in business.”
It is now believed the plant Merseyside-born Mr Woodley was referring to is the LDV Vans site in Birmingham.
Mr Woodley said: “My comments about a plant with difficulties do not relate to Ellesmere Port.”
And Mr Chick was adamant that Ellesmere Port has a strong future.
“The point is we’re going back to three or four shifts and we are the first plant in Europe to build a car well into 2010, in the most significant sector.
“It just beggars belief.”
Ellesmere Port has secured a contract to produce the new Astra, with work due to commence in September this year.
In the aftermath of Mr Woodley’s comments, Business Secretary Peter Mandelson accused him of spreading “rumours” and warned the speculation could “destabilise a company or industry and bring about the very outcome we are seeking to avoid”.
Mr Chick said: “Tony Woodley should come off the pot and tell us which company he is talking about, otherwise it’s just going to go on and on because of the incessant interest.
“He’s doing a good job trying to get the government to come off the pot, but it doesn’t help us.”
Ellesmere Port and Neston councillor Ted Lloyd represents Vauxhall’s neighbouring Rossmore ward, home to many of the car plant’s employees.
The Labour councillor said: “It doesn’t do them any good to be talking along these lines, even if they are rumours.
“Rumours can be an awful thing and people get all sorts of ideas, particularly with so many residents around here being employed at the plant.
“They are all saying there is no smoke without fire.
“It’s a pity Tony made the statement without being able to substantiate it in some way.”
But the Unite joint general secretary refused to be drawn further on speculation, and refused to reveal whether his comments related to any north west plant.
Tony Woodley added: “We have been talking incredibly hard with government and the company for many weeks in order to make sure the Ellesmere Port plant has a long term future, and these negotiations and discussions are continuing.”
LDV has halted production at its factory in Birmingham since December 12 following the global downturn in sales.
Sales across the van sector have almost halved in the past three months in line with the slump affecting car companies THE DAILY POST