Brexit a “factor” in Vauxhall sell off talks, says Unite

After meeting with business secretary Greg Clark following the news that General Motors is considering selling its Vauxhall division to Peugeot, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said the firm had a moral duty to stand by its workforce.

McCluskey repeated his call that the backing given by government to Nissan, to ensure that it maintains its UK car production when the UK leaves the European Union, should to be offered to the rest of the UK car industry.

McCluskey also reiterated his call for the UK government to think again on its policy towards the European single market as the uncertainty is now clearly impacting on the future of flagship UK companies such as Vauxhall.

“The meeting with the minister was an opportunity for Unite to stress that this union will not accept any job losses or plant closures as a result of this move by General Motors (GM) and Peugeot,” said McCluskey.

“The UK market is largest market in the EU for Vauxhall/Opel so GM does have a moral obligation not to turn its back on the communities and workers who have helped make this company what it is today.

“I’ll be speaking to GM as a matter of urgency to find out exactly what its plans are in relation to the UK workforce, and to impress upon the company that the unions must be part of this process going forward,” he added. “So too with Peugeot – I want to talk to them to assess whether they are a realistic option for our automotive sector’s future or not.

“It does seem as if Brexit is a factor in GM’s thinking as its UK business relies heavily on its links throughout the EU supply chain,” McCluskey noted. “Without a shadow of doubt, UK car plants must be offered the same assurances as those given by government to Nissan. But as I again stressed to the minister we need the government to be clearly committed to securing access to the single market for the UK auto industry.

“This can be done, in our view, while controlling access to the labour market so it is vital that the government thinks again about its priorities for UK manufacturing. It also makes it even more vital that the government takes this opportunity to work with the sector to bring the production of car components back to the UK so that we can run our businesses without facing bruising tariffs.

“The government’s commitment to delivering its industrial strategy, plus the uncertainty caused by Brexit, means we need to see bold, decisive action from ministers now.

“It cannot be that the future of UK car workers’ jobs now lie in the hands of the French government and their backing for Peugeot. The UK government has to offer at least equal but actually better backing for UK workers.”