PSA Group says it will work to accelerate the turnaround of the Opel/Vauxhall operation in Europe and believes the deal will put the company in a stronger position long term.
But the announcement this morning (Monday) has raised fears of job losses at Vauxhall’s manufacturing plants at Luton and Ellesmere Port and its site at Toddington.
Unite, the country’s biggest union, has said that the fight begins now to secure a future for the Vauxhall plants.
General Motors’ sale to the makers of Peugeot brings to an end 35 years of manufacturing in the UK, but said the union’s general secretary Len McCluskey, the UK plants are the most productive in the company’s stable, earning them the right to a future under the new owners.
He added that he had already sought and received urgent assurances from PSA and GM over the pensions of the UK workforce.
“It is vital that those who have saved hard for their retirement receive the benefits to which they are entitled. Unite will not allow our members to lose out, not by a penny.”
PSA Group chairman Carlos Tavares said: “We respect all that Opel/Vauxhall’s talented people have achieved as well as the company’s fine brands and strong heritage. We intend to manage PSA and Opel/Vauxhall capitalising on their respective brand identities.
“Having already created together winning products for the European market, we know that Opel/Vauxhall is the right partner. We see this as a natural extension of our relationship and are eager to take it to the next level.”
Mr McCluskey said: “This has obviously been a very difficult time for the workforce but their union has been and will continue to work day and night to fight for their interests.
“Now that General Motors has disposed of its UK sites, our focus switches to working with the new owners to persuade them of the evident merits of our plants and this excellent, loyal workforce.
“I am determined that we can convince the new boss, Mr Tavares, that it makes sense for him to continue to build in Britain. Our plants are the most productive in the European operation, the brand is strong here, the market for the products is here, so the cars must be made here.”
He called on the government to take action to secure the future of the UK automotive sector, which is facing new challenges in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union.
Mr McCluskey said: “There is also a role for the government to play. The uncertainty caused by Brexit is harming the UK auto sector. Wednesday’s Budget is a perfect opportunity for the government to make is clear that it will preserve our trading arrangements and that it will invest for our auto sector’s future now, beginning with assistance for the reshoring of components.
“We need every assistance from the government to give this sector a fighting chance. That absolutely includes committing now to securing access to the single market and customs union. This is the signal that the car industry needs in order to know that the UK government values this sector.”
General Motors chairman and chief executive Mary Barra said: “For GM, this represents another major step in the ongoing work that is driving our improved performance and accelerating our momentum.
“We are reshaping our company and delivering consistent, record results for our owners through disciplined capital allocation to our higher-return investments in our core automotive business and in new technologies that are enabling us to lead the future of personal mobility.
“We believe this new chapter puts Opel and Vauxhall in an even stronger position for the long term and we look forward to our participation in the future success and strong value-creation potential of PSA through our economic interest and continued collaboration on current and exciting new projects.”