Vauxhall is praising the co-operation of its trade unions in the recent tough productivity negotiations that saw substantial Astra work given to the Ellesmere Port site in North West England.

The four-year deal - although not negotiated - was accepted by unions with the carrot of substantial work coming Vauxhall's way - a development that has irked some in Germany who have hinted UK government subsidies may have been involved - a position the UK automaker hotly refutes.

"What I like is we share a common goal and we have found them [unions] to be very pragmatic," Vauxhall chairman and managing director, Duncan Aldred told just-auto on the sidelines of today's (21 June) Automotive News Congress in Monaco. You could accuse [some] people of demanding unrealistic pay rises, but the UK trade unions are not like that.

"They do due diligence, they are pragmatic about finding win-win solutions, Ellesmere Port delivers that. It is fair to say it was not a negotiated settlement - we made an offer and they presented it to the workforce. It was a great deal for both sides - I called it realistic for the environment we are in."

Vauxhall workers secured a four year deal that will see a two-year pay freeze followed by two rises of 3% as Ellesmere Port gears up to be the lead plant in two producing the next generation Astra in 2015.

From that date, Ellesmere Port will operate on three shifts, with the site expected to run profitably at full capacity utilisation of a minimum of 160,000 vehicles each year.

Vauxhall/Opel plans to spend GBP125m at Ellesmere Port to upgrade it and expects to create around 700 new direct jobs for operation. 

The automaker will also raise local content to at least 25% which will create further employment locally and across the UK.

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