Car production to resume at Ellesmere Port next month

Car production is to resume at the Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port next month, earlier than originally planned.

Owner Groupe PSA has confirmed that the site, which makes the top-selling Astra model, will reopen on August 17.

Production was halted in March as social distancing measures were introduced throughout the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Around 1,100 staff at the Ellesmere Port plant will return to a shop floor that has seen more than 100 safety features introduced to protect workers following an easing of lockdown restrictions.

These include temperature checks and changes to shift patterns at the Cheshire site.

PSA announced the closure of its plants on March 16, saying this would last until March 27, however, the health and safety restrictions meant its production lines remained silent, at least until May 18, when the group reopened its van manufacturing plant in Luton.

The owner said there was not yet enough demand to warrant reopening Ellesmere Port, and encouraged up to 200 of the workforce to consider temporary redeployment to Luton.

A statement by Groupe PSA, at the time, said: “The commercial situation of Vauxhall and Opel Astra requires the restarting of Ellesmere Port operations after September 1.”

But the company said “strengthened health procedures” have now been introduced at Ellesmre Port which would give staff “a high level of protection”.

PSA vice-president, Yann Vincent, added: “I would particularly like to praise the contribution of the Ellesmere Port employees who have supported the ramp-up of the production of Luton plant with a temporary transfer.

“This is a strong illustration that, together with Unite the Union, we have succeeded to protect both our employees and our operations in the UK in the difficult context of the COVID-19 crisis.”

Ellesmere Port produced around 62,000 Astra cars in 2019.

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