Vauxhall has confirmed that production of its next-generation Vauxhall Astra will be built at the company’s manufacturing plant at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, securing jobs in north west Britain until at least the early 2020s.
Ellesmere Port will be the lead plant of two in Europe building the new model. Assembly of the new compact car is scheduled to start in 2015.
The decision follows the conclusion of a new labour agreement, which was approved by the Vauxhall workforce yesterday. The agreement – which will lead to staff working more flexible hours as the plant moves from a two-shift pattern to a 24-hour three-shift pattern – comes into force in 2013 and runs through the life of the next-generation Astra, into the early 2020s.
As part of the agreement, the plant will implement a number of what Vauxhall refers to as “creative operating solutions to improve flexibility and reduce fixed costs and hence significantly improve its competitiveness”.
Operating on three-shifts, the plant is expected to run profitably at full capacity. The plan agrees a minimum of 160,000 vehicles to be produced each year. Vauxhall/Opel intends to invest £125 million into the facility in Ellesmere Port in order to upgrade it to the latest manufacturing standards and prepare for production of the new model. The company expects to create approximately 700 new jobs in order to facilitate the three-shift operation.
Vauxhall will also raise the local supply content for the Astra to be built in Ellesmere Port to at least 25 per cent. It is estimated that this could generate an estimated 3000 jobs in the supply chain.
The future of Ellesmere Port had been under threat for some time, due to parent company GM’s precarious financial position. Since 1999 Opel, GM’s European arm of which Vauxhall is part, has lost £7 billion.