Monday 20 February 2017 / 1:52 PM 2017 Press Archive / The Latest from Labour

Long-Bailey writes to Greg Clark to demand guarantee of jobs for Vauxhall workforce

Shadow
Business Secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, writes to Greg Clark about potential
sale of Vauxhall to Peugeot-PSA

The
Shadow Secretary for BEIS has today written to Greg Clark, Secretary of State
for BEIS, urging him to guarantee that jobs and terms and conditions of the
Vauxhall workforce will be protected in the event of the company’s sale to
Peugeot-PSA.

Rebecca
Long-Bailey has also requested an Urgent Question on the matter in the House of
Commons, which will be taken at 3.30 today.

On
the threat the proposed takeover poses to the UK workforce, Rebecca Long-Bailey
said:

“These reports are deeply worrying to the
4,500 workers employed at Vauxhall’s Luton and Ellesmere Port plants, and to
the tens of thousands of employees in its retail, support and supply chain
operations. PSA’s history of axing jobs in the name of rationalisation are also
concerning. Britain’s automotive industry has become a world-leader by
developing its skilled and highly-committed workforce and becoming more
productive, not by ruthlessly driving down costs.”

On
the implications of the proposal for the Government’s industrial strategy,
Rebecca Long-Bailey said:

“a
piecemeal, ad hoc approach will see our automotive sector lurch from crisis to
crisis as the uncertainties created by Brexit begin to take their toll. Waiting
for car makers to go to the brink before offering them support is the very
antithesis of an industrial strategy.”

On
the need to give workers in the UK the same protections given to European
counterparts, Rebecca Long-Bailey said:

“failure
to provide equivalent Government support to Opel’s UK sites as that seen in
France and Germany, and to ensure full parity of treatment between Opel’s UK
and French workers would be a betrayal of the UK workforce.”

Ends

 

Editors’
notes

–     It
has recently emerged that General Motors is discussing the sale of Opel, which
includes Vauxhall, to PSA Group.

–     4,500
workers are employed at Vauxhall’s Luton and Ellesmere port plants, along with
tens of thousands more who are employed in the retail, support and supply chain
operations.

–     These
jobs are under threat from the proposed sale, should Vauxhall cut back
production, a particular concern given the PSA Group has a reputation for
cutting jobs to rationalise production.

–     The
French Government owns a 14% stake in PSA and the German government is
providing financial support to its Opel sites.

–         
The
full text of the letter is as follows:

Dear
Rt Hon Greg Clark MP,

I
am writing to request an urgent meeting to discuss reports that General Motors
may be about to sell its European business, Opel, to PSA, the owner of Peugeot
and Citroen brands.

These
reports are deeply worrying to the 4,500 workers employed at Vauxhall’s Luton
and Ellesmere Port plants, and to the tens of thousands of employees in its
retail, support and supply chain operations. PSA’s history of axing jobs in the
name of rationalisation are also concerning. Britain’s automotive industry has
become a world-leader by developing its skilled and highly-committed workforce
and becoming more productive, not by ruthlessly driving down costs.

I
understand that you met with PSA executives on 16th February and that the Prime
Minister is due to meet PSA CEO Carlos Taveres shortly. I am keen to hear in
detail what assurances they were able to give you about their plans for
Vauxhall, and what you and your Government are doing to ensure that PSA do not
turn their backs on Opel’s UK workforce.

Like
you, I welcomed Nissan’s decision late last year to continue to invest in the
UK, but argued at the time that all car manufacturers should be given the same
assurances. Recent developments have underlined this point. It was reported
over the weekend that PSA have now been given the same guarantees, but I remain
concerned that a piecemeal, ad hoc approach will see our automotive sector
lurch from crisis to crisis as the uncertainties created by Brexit begin to
take their toll. Waiting for car makers to go to the brink before offering them
support is the very antithesis of an industrial strategy.

This
is particularly so given that the French Government owns a 14% stake in PSA. In
light of predictions by analysts and industry experts that French workers will
be left unscathed by any buy-out, and that job losses will fall elsewhere,
including in the UK, it is hard not to worry that the British Government’s
hands-off approach is letting workers down. Even the German Government is
providing financial support to its Opel sites, and workers in Germany are much
harder to sack than those in the UK. Under such circumstances, failure to
provide equivalent Government support to Opel’s UK sites as that seen in France
and Germany, and to ensure full parity of treatment between Opel’s UK and
French workers would be a betrayal of the UK workforce.

In
the longer run, it is clear that the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green
Paper launched last month has done little to reassure manufacturers weighing up
whether or not to stay in the UK after we leave the European Union. Urgent
action is needed to encourage the reshoring of manufacturing supply chains and
secure single market access for key exporting industries. Without this, there
is a real danger that many of our finest manufacturers will fall victim to new
import and export tariffs.

The
next few days will be critical in determining the future of Vauxhall in the UK.
I would therefore be most grateful if you would agree to meet me as a matter of
urgency to discuss what action you are taking to protect the jobs and terms and
conditions of Opel’s UK workforce. It may also be welcome to involve those MP’s
representing areas directly affected by this issue in our discussions for
example those members representing Luton and Ellesmere Port.

Yours
sincerely,

Rebecca
Long-Bailey

Shadow
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy