Unite statement following the meeting with minister to discuss possible Vauxhall sale to Peugeot – ‘we will not accept any job losses’
Following his meeting with Greg Clark, the secretary of state for business and industrial strategy, the leader of the UK’s biggest union, Unite, said that General Motors had a moral duty to stand by the UK workforce – and repeated his call for the backing given by government to Nissan, to ensure that it maintains its UK car production when the UK leaves the European Union, is offered to the rest of the UK car industry.
Len McCluskey, the union’s general secretary, also reiterated his call for the UK government to think again on its policy towards the European single market as the uncertainty is now clearly impacting on the future of flagship UK companies such as Vauxhall.
Commenting, Len McCluskey said: “The meeting with the minister was an opportunity for Unite to stress that this union will not accept any job losses or plant closures as a result of this move by General Motors (GM) and Peugeot.
“The UK market is largest market in the EU for Vauxhall/Opel so GM does have a moral obligation not to turn its back on the communities and workers who have helped make this company what it is today.
“I’ll be speaking to GM as a matter of urgency to find out exactly what its plans are in relation to the UK workforce, and to impress upon the company that the unions must be part of this process going forward. So too with Peugeot – I want to talk to them to assess whether they are a realistic option for our automotive sector’s future or not.
“It does seem as if Brexit is a factor in GM’s thinking as its UK business relies heavily on its links throughout the EU supply chain. Without a shadow of doubt, UK car plants must be offered the same assurances as those given by government to Nissan. But as I again stressed to the minister we need the government to be clearly committed to securing access to the single market for the UK auto industry.
“This can be done, in our view, while controlling access to the labour market so it is vital that the government thinks again about its priorities for UK manufacturing. It also makes it even more vital that the government takes this opportunity to work with the sector to bring the production of car components back to the UK so that we can run our businesses without facing bruising tariffs.
“The government’s commitment to delivering its industrial strategy, plus the uncertainty caused by Brexit, means we need to see bold, decisive action from ministers now.
“It cannot be that the future of UK car workers’ jobs now lie in the hands of the French government and their backing for Peugeot. The UK government has to offer at least equal but actually better backing for UK workers.”