Senior executives at General Motors were meeting yesterday to finalise restructuring plans and proceed to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy today.
US President Barack Obama is scheduled to hold a press conference at 3pm UK time today to give full details of the restructuring.
In the US, 14 more plants and 21,000 more jobs are set to be axed.
GM has agreed a deal to sell off GM Europe to the Canadian auto parts manfacturer Magna but analysts are saying that this may well fall apart.
If the deal goes ahead, the prospect is that that GM Luton will close and large numbers of jobs will go at Vauxhall Ellesmere Port.
UK business secretary Mandelson admitted yesterday about the deal: ‘Of course it will involve change. There is excess capacity.’
Meanwhile, in Germany Juergen Pieper, an automotive analyst at Metzler Bank, said: ‘All this seems to rest on a very fragile base. Let’s say there is a 60 or 70 percent chance that it won’t work.’
Opel management is faced with balancing the interests of its four main shareholders.
GM is to keep a 35 per cent minority stake, Russia’s Sberbank takes a 35 per cent stake, Magna a 20 per cent holding, and 10 per cent stake is held by Opel workers and pensioners.
The German government is to act as guarantor for around three billion euros (£4.2bn) worth of loans, as well as making an emergency loan of 1.5 billion euros to Opel.
Magna has pledged to keep all Opel’s German factories open and limit job cuts there to around 2,500.
It says it plans to lay off one in five workers across the rest of Europe, at plants in Spain, Belgium and the UK.
It is also believed that Magna intends to start making Opel cars at a factory in Russia owned by precious metals tycoon Oleg Deripaska’s GAZ automaker, which will mean production will be taken away from plants in the EU.
The trade unions must be made to defend jobs at GM Luton, workers and youth insisted on Saturday.
Sue Hurrion told News Line in the town centre: ‘I used to work for BTR.
‘It made parts for Mitsubishi, Nissan and Land Rover – all of them.
‘BTR went in 2005. Everything is just closing. There’s no jobs.
‘Even if you have qualifications, there are no jobs. There’s nothing in Luton.
‘Workers should occupy GM to stop the closure.
‘If they lose their job at Vauxhall, they’ll lose their homes, they’ll lose everything.
‘I blame the government. They shouldn’t have let work go out of the country.
‘The unions should be made to fight. People’s livelihoods are at risk.’
Doris said: ‘The factory mustn’t close. It would devastate this town.
‘I’m a GM pensioner. I don’t know how the takeover will affect me. The unions have to fight. They should occupy the plant.
‘This government is doing nothing. They are only looking after the bankers and the people with money.’
GM Luton worker and Unite member Majid Chikte added: ‘There should be a fight to save all GM jobs in the UK.
‘Without a fight, there is nothing. I’ll support an occupation if necessary.’
Dee said: ‘I used to work at IBC. I work for a catering company at Vauxhall parts at Toddington now.
‘Everybody is worried. They don’t know what is happening.
‘We have to fight for our jobs, we all have to stand together.’
School youth TJ Osenie and Judith Jones said jobs must be defended.
TJ said: ‘There has to be a fight to keep the Luton van plant open.
‘The big people are taking the power and all the money and leaving the ordinary people with nothing.
‘If GM closes, more people will be made redundant.’
Judith added: ‘There are no other jobs to go to.
‘We have to defend GM jobs. The union leaders should be made to fight for jobs.’
• The GMB trade union is appealing to M&S boss Stuart Rose to save the Luton sandwich factory.
GMB negotiators are in talks with Hain Celestial over the plans to shut the Luton sandwich factory over the next 12 months from July with the loss of 350 local jobs.