BRITAIN is being held back by the lack of a consistent industrial strategy, Labour said yesterday as unions sought an urgent meeting with ministers over job losses at Vauxhall.
The car giant has announced plans to shed 400 jobs at its Ellesmere Port site in Cheshire, more than a fifth of the factory’s workforce.
Bosses have blamed “challenging European market conditions and a declining passenger-car market.”
General union Unite’s leader Len McCluskey said the redundancies, which will initially be voluntary, represented a “major blow to the automotive industry” and “another huge loss for the north-west economy.”
He said: “Our priority now is to support our members and protect this plant. We are calling for meetings with the highest levels of the parent company PSA to ensure that there are no compulsory redundancies and that our plant continues to attract much-needed investment.
“But we also appeal to the government for its assistance. This industry urgently needs economic and trading certainty so that it can build for a strong future in the UK.”
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey compared the government’s inaction over Vauxhall with the secret post-Brexit deal struck with Nissan last year.
“After the government pledged to do everything it could to protect Vauxhall workers when PSA took over the company earlier this year, we are now seeing potential job losses,” she noted.
“The government’s lack of a bold and consistent industrial strategy is holding Britain back. The government cannot simply offer secretive bespoke deals to some car manufacturers and not others.
“The government urgently needs to support the plant, provide Brexit certainty to the sector and attract the investment it urgently needs.”
A Vauxhall spokesman said: “As an important element in accelerating the recovery of plant productivity, while continuously improving the already high level of quality achieved today, Vauxhall plans a move towards single-shift operation at Ellesmere Port during 2018.
“Vauxhall will consult with employee representatives and will look for potential opportunities to minimise the impact of these proposed headcount reductions.”
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