North East Wales

Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port boost for Welsh workers

A deal to secure the future of Ellesmere Port's Vauxhall car plant will give a welcome boost to more than 350 workers from north-east Wales, say industry experts.

The US car maker has announced that the Cheshire factory will build the next generation of Astra cars.

Workers have also overwhelmingly backed a new pay and conditions deal.

Prof Garel Rhys, from Cardiff Business School, said that will also mean hundreds of new jobs.

"This is very good news indeed for the local economy, including the one in north-east Wales," said Prof Rhys.

"This plant now will go to three-shift working very quickly it is likely that you are going to see an increase in employment of another 750 workers plus contract workers."

Union backing

Vince Cable, the UK's Business Secretary, told the BBC no financial inducements were offered to American owners General Motors (GM).

Many people had feared that with GM's European unit sustaining heavy losses, Ellesmere Port would close.

The plans were conditional on workers agreeing to a new labour deal, put to staff over the last few days.

The plans will keep the plant operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

That will end the long tradition in car manufacturing of plant closures in the summer and during Christmas.

Ninety-four percent of the workforce backed the proposals.

Vauxhall chairman and managing director, Duncan Aldred, said: "This is great news for the Ellesmere Port plant, our employees, the local community, our suppliers, the Vauxhall brand and the UK.

"We have been able to develop a responsible labour agreement that secures the plant's future."

Prof Rhys said it placed the plant right at the heart of GM's European operations.

"No longer will Ellesmere Port be seen as a marginal plant," said Prof Rhys.

"Ellesmere Port becomes absolutely central to General Motors of Detroit's plans for Europe as a whole.

"It has been really a tremendous tripartite approach - the unions, the management and the government. UK Plc has really come together on this."

Secretary of State for Wales Cheryl Gillan said the news was "very welcome news for the economy and the hundreds of employees" from north Wales who work at the plant.

She added: "The news is testament to the exemplary skills of the workforce and an excellent example of how this government is helping to create the right environment for industry.

"Moreover, it is another sure sign that the UK's auto sector continues to go from strength-to-strength and is open for business."

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