Management and unions at Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant are negotiating to keep the plant open

Management and unions at Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant are negotiating a significant overhaul of working practices, including adding a possible third shift, as part of the bid to stay open in the restructuring of GM Europe.

Improvements such as more flexible working practices and complex shift-patterns are understood to be on the table as Ellesmere digs deep to save its 2700 jobs.

The plan is also understood to include a significant increase in British-built content in the cars built at Ellesmere, which are hoped to increase from 10 per cent currently to 30 per cent in 2014 when anew Astra goes into production. A more favourable Pound/Euro exchange rate is said to be helping that plan.

The negotiations are said to being helped by the close working relationship between management and unions. Unite Union leader Tony Woodley started his career at Ellesmere Port.

A decision on the plant's future could come as soon as 'a month or so', according to one source.

Ellesmere will have to improve productivity to remain a step ahead of its other rivals as GM plans to trim its network of seven European plants down to five.

'GM really wants to get the factories working hard, to get the cars flowing through the plants, and we're confident we've got a plan to do that for the next Astra,' says a source.

Bidding for investment to bring the next-gen Astra to Merseyside is the key to the plant's survival.

The next-gen Astra is a re-skin of today's model, which means some of the tooling at the plant, which currently assembles around 180k Astras a year, won't need to be renewed at Ellesmere.Shifting production to a plant that doesn't currently make the Astra would require much more upheaval.

Adding a third shift would take Ellesmere's capacity to around 250k - the industry standard figure for a viable car plant. Concentrating Astra production into two plants is understood to be a major part of GM's agenda. Currently Astras are built in three plants - the UK, Germany and Poland.

Ellesmere is in competition with three German plants, two Spanish and a Polish plant for ashare of the next Astra investment.

Bochum, built in the early 1960s like Ellesmere, is battling for the Astra investment, as is low-cost Gliwice in Poland, while Eisenach, the former Trabant factory in east Germany, also a low cost plant, is said to have already secured the new Junior city car, guaranteeing its future.

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18

2 May 2012

I hope Ellesmere Port gets this factory. The decision on where the factory should go must be made fairly, too often governments seem to give out bribes to get the work. I can't see how it makes any sense to keep the German factory for such a mid-market car, given the high wages over there. Also, if GM abandoned the UK, they'd lose a lot of sales - think how we all abandoned Peugeot when they moved out...

2 May 2012

that could be more to do with Peugeot's product decline.

I thought the unions said they wouldn't get involved in divide and conquer talks designed to get plant fighting plant?

Still cannot see them closing Ellesmere though.

2 May 2012

Anyone working at the Ellesmere plant will be well aware of the precarious nature of their position at present, so it is only in their interests to be flexible with regards to any changes that could happen.

That said, the UK is a good place to be building cars at the moment for manufacturers (just look at the investment by other makers recently) and GM would be foolish to turn their back on this production facility.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

2 May 2012

[quote TegTypeR]is only in their interests to be flexible with regards to any changes that could happen.[/quote]

Correct, but the inference in recent press releases was that they weren't prepared to be. At least not from the German union side. I suspect they see the writing is on the wall over there.

2 May 2012

[quote Autocar] The negotiations are said to being helped by the close working relationship between management and unions. Unite Union leader Tony Woodley started his career at Ellesmere Port. [/quote]

Pity the union leader didn't start his career working on the London Underground; then the clowns might stop striking all the time and holding the city to ransom whenever they feel like it.

Long-term, Ellesmere Port's future is still shaky. Unless GM decides to start building Chevrolets there, or the sterling collapses against the Euro and other currencies.

2 May 2012

OMG Shock horror!

"The negotiations are said to being helped by the close working relationship between management and unions."

what, the unions, actually encouraging their members to work with , not against the management?? whatever next, scargill voting tory???!!!

2 May 2012

[quote paddyb]if GM abandoned the UK, they'd lose a lot of sales - think how we all abandoned Peugeot when they moved out...[/quote]

Didn't seem to harm Ford. Usually car choice will come down to whether it suits your "must have" criteria, and the price

2 May 2012

[quote sierra]Didn't seem to harm Ford. Usually car choice will come down to whether it suits your "must have" criteria, and the price
[/quote]

Good point, just posted before I was going to make a comment about the UK being Vauxhall/Opel's biggest market - the UK was Ford's biggest European market but that did not secure Fiesta/Focus/Mondeo production for Speke/Dagenham....

As soon as EP closes I think that's the end for Vauxhall as a brand, I think Opel wouldn't be too far behind either....

2 May 2012

This is good news . What may be more interesting is to see what happens as the Euro continues to slide against the pound and dollar and yen maybe someone will even open some new plants in the UK . The Japanese manufacturers seem to particularly favour the UK .

There is a downside though as Astra sales may well suffer as the Euro economy weakens

I think new car sales have totally collapsed in Greece and Spain .

Interesting times ahead .

2 May 2012

I'm greatly heartened by this news. It's indeed rare for any positive news regarding Unions so for the entire plant to be tackling the realities head-on is encouraging.

On a cautious note though, I wonder how GM will will perceive 3-shift working? A leap in efficiency for little captial outlay or reduced future flexibility with no time for maintenance and greater risk (and impact) of downtime vs a plant costing the same but operating 2-shifts.

Regardless I hope Elsemere Port wins out.

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