Vauxhall workers’ union Unite has signed the UK memorandum of understanding and European framework agreement in respect of employee contributions to the Opel/Vauxhall turnaround plan which includes a two-year pay freeze.

These are part of an overall Opel/Vauxhall European labour cost saving agreement to save EUR265m a year.  The UK programme will save EUR26.5m in the agreement period from 2010 to 2014 and represents 10% of the European total.

The European framework agreement is geared towards detailed investment and production commitments for an attractive product portfolio; the establishment of a more independent Opel/Vauxhall AG and profit sharing for employees. The product plan builds upon Opel/Vauxhall’s announcement in early February, when the company said it would invest EUR11bn into new products, alternative propulsion systems and other growth initiatives.

The UK MOU agrees a two-year pay freeze, pension scheme savings and the introduction of SMART pensions.

Vauxhall Motors managing director Duncan Aldred said: “We are proud of our employees’ continued support and our excellent relationships with the unions. We believe that we have come to a positive agreement which recognises the outstanding achievements of our manufacturing facilities and the drive and enthusiasm of our employees.”

Within the UK MOU, some UK related manufacturing plans have already been signed. The Ellesmere Port plant will move to three shifts in the first half of 2011. This follows the introduction of the Astra Sports Tourer (estate car) alongside the current Astra five-door hatchback and the AstraVan. Ellesmere Port will be the only Opel/Vauxhall plant in Europe producing the Astra Sports Tourer from September 2010, bringing with it significant export opportunity. There will be no headcount reductions at Ellesmere Port.  The plant will also produce the next (seventh) generation Astra subject to maintaining its competitive position in the Opel/Vauxhall manufacturing group.

At Vauxhall’s Luton plant, talks continue “in a positive vein” with Renault on the opportunity for joint development and production of the next generation Vivaro van. The current Vauxhall/Renault joint venture Vivaro’s lifecycle runs out in 2013.

Vauxhall said it is optimistic that talks about a new generation Vivaro will be successful.