General Motors Europe unit Vauxhall is offering a temporary furlough scheme to the 2,200 workers at its Ellesmere Port plant here in England.

A spokeswoman told just-auto the “pilot scheme” was intended to “reduce structural costs” at the plant which builds the Astra line.

It would be available from 1 January to 1 September next year and is open to all employees though she stressed some “key employees” may not be allowed to participate.

Workers will be able to choose a furlough of between two and nine months. They would receive 30% of their normal pay but retain full holiday entitlement and pension rights.

It was too early to say how many would take up the offer which was announced to workers late last week, the spokeswoman said.

Local media, citing unnamed Vauxhall sources, have said the automaker expects no more than 30% of staff to go on furlough.