BUSINESS Secretary Mandelson’s Department and the Unite union both said yesterday that talks on Wednesday with new GM Europe owner, Magna, were ‘constructive’ but did not want to give details.
Unite co-leader Tony Woodley and national officer Dave Osborne have offered to accept pay and pension cuts in a bid to keep production in the UK.
Unite press officer Pauline Doyle said: ‘The talks were constructive but there is still a long way to go.’
She said there will be more meetings in the near future and explained that Unite has refused to sign a memorandum of understanding with Magna because ‘it calls for 30 per cent job cuts and 50 per cent in the near future’
Business department press officer Rebecca Murrell said: ‘The talks were constructive.
‘There are still important issues to be resolved and we will keep talking to all parties over the coming days.’
Both said they are doing everything they can to secure the future of Vauxhall Ellesmere Port and GMM Luton.
Meanwhile, Ellesmere Port boss Tom Schmidt said that Vauxhall can’t rely solely on Britain’s contribution to sales to protect its 5,500 jobs.
He said: ‘We need to ship global. A couple of years ago we started to ship to Mexico, South Africa and New Zealand.
‘That’s the position we need to be in as that’s what generates volume for the plant. No longer do we think we can produce just for the UK and Ireland.’
Magna has said it will get rid of 1,400 jobs at Vauxhall following the takeover. Unite is concerned that more jobs could be cut in coming years and both Ellesmere Port and the Luton van plant will be closed down.
• Second News story
UNITE WARNS BA STEP BACK FROM THE BRINK
British Airways Unite union convenors and shop stewards were meeting again yesterday over BA’s announcement of 1,700 job cuts and cuts in pay and pensions for cabin crew.
Yesterday’s meeting followed an emergency meeting on Wednesday, when Unite denounced the airline’s ‘attempt to impose significant contractual changes on its 14,000 cabin crew employees, and introduce a second-tier workforce on poorer pay and conditions.’
Unite added: ‘BA has told cabin crew that they must accept these impositions by November 16th or leave the company.
‘The airline must remove the imposed changes and resume talks or risk a serious, drawn-out confrontation with its workforce.’
Steve Turner, Unite national officer for aviation, said: ‘This imposition is completely unacceptable.
‘It is a disgraceful attempt to intimidate workers into accepting poorer contracts. This imposition must be withdrawn.
‘BA must step back from the brink and get back round the table to talk.
‘In three days of talks last week at Acas, BA categorically refused to talk about these plans. They conducted themselves in bad faith then and are doing so again now.
‘BA must be under no illusion; Unite will vigorously defend BA’s loyal staff and its customer base and will not see standards driven into the ground by this management team.’
Brian Boyd, Unite national officer, added: ‘BA’s ultimatum puts our members’ jobs and livelihoods under serious attack, and further damages the reputation of our national carrier.
‘Unite and its cabin crew members have said all along that we wanted to negotiate a shared solution to the short-term financial problems facing BA.
‘Earlier this year, Unite tabled changes amounting to £140 million in savings for the business. These could have been banked months ago, putting cash into the business while retaining the airline’s integrity and sustaining good industrial relations.
‘These were dismissed out of hand by BA’s management and now it is clear why.
‘Sadly, the company is not interested in compromise, preferring conflict with its workforce.’
Unite believes the new contractual changes are an attempt to force staff to pay the price for management failings with the company wringing more and more out of fewer and fewer staff who will be paid less.