General Motors-owned Vauxhall Ellesmere Port and GM Luton have admitted their future depends on the US government bailing out their parent company.
During discussions with the US Congress, GM said it needs $4bn (£2.7bn) in emergency funding this month alone if it is to survive.
Its UK subsidiaries which employ more than 5,000 people in Luton and Merseyside said the negotiations were ‘highly relevant’ to the UK.
Vauxhall has denied reports it asked the UK government for financial aid.
GM and other troubled US car-makers, Ford and Chrysler, have demanded a $34bn (£23bn) rescue plan, but the Bush administration wants a detailed survival plan, which would involve breaking the unions, before handing over the cash.
GM bought Vauxhall in 1925. A GM spokesman yesterday said the negotiations in Washington were ‘highly relevant to the strategic direction of the GM global business and specifically for Vauxhall in the UK’.
Reports appeared at the weekend that US lawmakers had reached agreement for a $15bn-$17bn bailout, half that being asked for by America’s Big Three automakers.
In October, the Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port, stopped production for 14 days because of falling sales in Europe.
Car sales in the UK fell 37 per cent in November against last year.
Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley met Business Secretary Mandelson last November 11 and asked him to work for a 13bn euro aid package to save the European car industry.
Vauxhall was among other representatives from the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, who met Business Secretary Mandelson on 27 November to appeal for aid for the industry.
A company spokesman said the delegation had ‘pressed’ the government to help consumers obtain the finance they could then spend on cars.
Mandelson’s Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) has confirmed ‘financial solutions’ including bridging loans for the companies were discussed at the meeting.
Earlier, other car manufacturers had made individual representations to Lord Mandelson but BERR has indicated it would not comment on any of these.
A spokesman said the department planned to take ‘a pragmatic and hard-headed approach in light of the fiscal position as outlined in the pre-Budget report’.
Yesterday, Dave Wiltshire, national secretary of the All Trades Union Alliance, told News Line in Luton: ‘There is only one way forward for workers in this crisis.
‘They must occupy the Vauxhall plants and organise national strike action to demand their immediate nationalisation under workers’ control.’
• British Airways announced yesterday that it is cutting 100 jobs at Gatwick Airport and will be reducing the number of flights from Gatwick next summer.
• Second news story
CHICAGO FACTORY OCCUPIED
Members of United Electrical Workers (UE) Local 1110 were occupying the Republic Windows and Doors plant in Chicago around the clock through the weekend, in an effort to force the company and its main creditor to meet their obligations to the workers.
Their goal is to at least get the compensation that workers are owed; they also seek the resumption of operations at the plant.
All 260 members of the local were laid off last Friday in a sudden plant closure, brought on by Bank of America cutting off operating credit to the company.
The bank even instructed managers at Republic to refuse to pay workers their earned vacation pay and the severance pay they are owed under the federal WARN Act, since the company failed to give its 300 employees the 60 days’ notice required by law before shutting.
Bank of America, the country’s second largest bank, has received $25bn in taxpayer money as part of the $700bn government bailout of the financial industry.
The public was told that this bailout was necessary in order to keep credit flowing and prevent the loss of jobs.
UE Local 1110 members, along with community supporters, picketed and rallied in front of Bank of America’s main Chicago branch last Wednesday, December 3.
They chanted, ‘You got bailed out, we got sold out!’
Local 1110 President Armando Robles told the news media, ‘Just weeks before Christmas we are told our factory will close in three days.
‘Taxpayers gave Bank of America billions, and they turn around and close our company. We will fight for a bailout for workers.’