Gm Threat To Close Ellesmere Port

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The Unite union, which represents the bulk of the 2,800 workforce at Vauxhall Ellesmere Port, yesterday responded to news that Business Secretary Vince Cable had flown to New York to plead with GM for the plant to stay open.

Unite national officer Roger Maddison told News Line: ‘Ellesmere Port is the most efficient plant in GM’s European family, and the UK is their biggest market.

‘There is not one iota of business logic in closure and that is the case we will be making stridently to GM and their shareholders.’

Unite stressed: ‘There is a legally-binding agreement with GM to support production at European Plants until 2014.’

Cable met Dan Akerson, GM’s chief executive (corporate strategy), and vice-chairman Stephen Girsk during a flying visit to New York on Wednesday to make the case for continued GM investment in its British factories and to press the case for saving the Ellesmere Port factory from shutdown.

The meeting took place the same day GM announced it has a global alliance with PSA Peugeot Citroen that is expected to result in savings of £1.25bn and to turn around the company’s operations in Europe, where the Opel and Vauxhall brands are produced.

The closure of the Ellesmere Port site would cause the loss of 2,800 jobs, with devastating consequences for the local economy.

GM is expected to make a decision before the end of March. it was reported that the company is looking to reduce the number of cars it produces in Europe to 400,000 and that this is likely to result in the closure of the Cheshire plant.

Commenting on the talks, a Business Department official claimed that both GM vice-chairman Steve Girsky and Akerson ‘were engaged and receptive’ and ‘were pleased that Vince Cable had gone to New York to make the case to them in person’.

He added that Cable also made ‘a strong case for them to make a long-term commitment to the UK’.

The Ellesmere Port plant has been under threat since General Motors revealed last month that its European arm Opel and Vauxhall lost $562m (£355m) in 2011.

US analysts have said that GM is exploring the closure of Ellesmere Port and its Bochum plant in Germany when an agreement with unions ends in 2014.