Workers at General Motors’ UK Opel/Vauxhall car factory near Liverpool are waiting anxiously for news this week over the future of the plant which currently builds some Astra models.
With the US giant losing money in Europe, an announcement over a factory closure is imminent although local news sources say key meetings will be held this week and there is speculation GM is preparing to announce the new version of its Astra will be built at Ellesmere Port with potentially hundreds of new jobs resulting.
Weekend reports suggested lobbying by government ministers, including the UK’s business secretary Vince Cable, could be about to pay off for Ellesmere Port. That would be a blow to other GM sites in Germany and Europe.
Citing unidentified sources, the Financial Mail said GM would keep the UK Opel/Vauxhall unit where it planned to boost Astra production and sell more cars locally. Over 80% of the Astra Tourers (estate car/station wagon) made at Ellesmere Port are currently exported, according to the newspaper [see GM Europe could reshuffle Astra build plant roster - ed].
A likely announcement later this week follows months of discussions about the future of Ellesmere Port and speculation that the Merseyside site might miss out on future investment, threatening job losses.
Workers are likely to be balloted on a number of issues before any final decisions are taken and a positive outcome will be the second piece of good news for the region in the north west of the UK.
Last week Jaguar Land Rover announced it would open a new parts plant next to the Vauxhall site in Ellesmere Port, creating 300 jobs.
The facility will open this summer and will be managed by DHL, which already employs more than 600 staff at the firm’s nearby Halewood car plant supplying the Evoque and Freelander production line.