700 jobs as Vauxhall invests £125m in Ellesmere Port

THE future of the Vauxhall car plant at Ellesmere Port has been secured for at least the next decade thanks to a £125m investment from parent company General Motors, which will create 700 new jobs and safeguard more than 2,000.

Ellesmere Port has been chosen as one of two plants to build the next generation of Astra in 2015. A third production shift will begin that year.

Vauxhall chairman and managing Director, Duncan Aldred, said: “This is great news for the Ellesmere Port plant, our employees, the local community, our suppliers, the Vauxhall brand and the UK.

“We have been able to develop a responsible labour agreement that secures the plant’s future.  This is assisted by the government‘s industrial strategy;  increasing its focus on the manufacturing sector and creating ideal ground for companies to build up long term investments.”

The company said it would be investing £125m in the factory – which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year – to upgrade it to the latest manufacturing standards and prepare for production of the new model.

The boost follows the signing of what Vauxhall said was a “ground-breaking new labour agreement” to boost competitiveness at Ellesmere Port.

The agreement – backed by 94% of staff – comes into force in 2013 and runs through the life of the next-generation Astra, into the early 2020s, the manufacturer said.

Assembly of the model is scheduled to start in 2015. Operating on three-shifts, the plant is expected to run profitably at full capacity utilisation.   The plan agrees a minimum of 160,000 vehicles to be produced each year. 

Vauxhall said it would raise the local supply content for the Astra to be built in Ellesmere Port to at least 25% which will create further employment locally and in the UK overall and further increase the plant’s competitiveness. vauxhall3

The news was welcomed by Prime Minister David Cameron as a “British success story”.

Speaking in Manchester, Mr Cameron said: “The workforce has responded magnificently. The UK Government gave this its full backing. The unions supported the changes.”

Business secretary Vince Cable, who attended the announcement at  Ellesmere Port said Vauxhall’s investment should create around 4,000 jobs in the supply chain.

“It’s a tremendous boost for the economy – there is a real revival in the UK automotive sector with Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover investing recently too.”

He said he had worked with General Motors to assure them that the UK is a good place to invest with a flexible and co-operative workforce and a supportive tax regime.

Trade union chief Len McCluskey of Unite, added:”From a position of uncertainty earlier this year, there is now a potential for a future at the plant until 2020 and beyond, and with that 700 new skilled jobs at Ellesmere Port itself, and possibly hundreds more in the supply chain.

“Importantly this move will also bring component supplier plants back into the UK, a development that strengthens our manufacturing base generally.”

The decision by General Motors to commit the production of the new Astra to Ellesmere Port and a factory in Poland is likely to mean the closure of one of the Opel plants in Germany.

Detriot-based GM is trying to staunch losses in its European division of £470m last year.