Ellesmere Port unions’ amazement as Vauxhall sale to Magna called off GENERAL Motors has scrapped plans to sell Vauxhall to the Canadian car parts firm Magna.
Staff at the plant had been bracing themselves for GM’s sale of the plant, which had threatened 10,500 jobs across Europe.
A meeting assumed to herald the ratification of the deal, however, saw a complete turnaround late last night – prompting a “cautious welcome” from Union bosses.
Acknowledging the move will see a return to the plan to restructure the business, a spokesman for GM in the US said the decision followed an improvement in the business environment in Europe and an upturn in GM’s financial health.
Last night, Unite convenor at Vauxhall, John Fetherston, said the News
had stunned not only workers but the union.
He said: “When we heard the Sale
was off it was amazement, it was an extreme surprise.
“We knew the company was meeting last night to give it another look, but the assumption was it would be to ratify the decision to sell, so to find out we are being kept in the GM family is a surprise – and a welcome one.
“GM does have a business plan that will involve cost- cutting and cost reduction, so we have to wait and see.
“I think the reaction at the plant will be it’s better the devil you know, but there’s another saying – the devil is in the detail.”
The deal to sell off Opel and Vauxhall to Magna had the backing of the German government, which pledged 4.5bn euros (£4bn) of loans.
The decision will see unions and the Government scrambling to find out where the scrapping of the Sale
leaves workers in Ellesmere Port.
Mr Fetherston added: “GM in the US have been fairly vicious, so we have to take it from here.
“They know what Ellesmere Port can do. They awarded us the Astra and we launched it so hopefully they will look at our capabilities and look after us.”
Fritz Henderson, president and chief executive of General Motors, said: “We understand the complexity and length of this issue has been draining for all involved.
“However, from the outset, our goal has been to secure the best long-term solution for our customers, employees, suppliers and dealers, which is reflected in the decision reached today.
“This was deemed to be the most stable and least costly approach for securing Opel/Vauxhall’s long-term future.”
An agreement reached with the Union and Unite was reached recently to remove uncertainty surrounding the 5,500 workers at the Ellesmere Port and Luton factories.
Both plants were given job security and a future through to 2013.
The deal with Magna had been backed by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson.
A Department for Business spokesman said: “We have noted GM’s announcement today and want to work closely with GM to understand their plan for the business and what it means for the UK.
“We have always said that, if the right long-term sustainable solution is identified, then the Government would be willing to provide funding to this.” THE POST