Thousands of Vauxhall car workers are facing fresh uncertainty about their jobs after the business was sold to a Canadian firm.
A day of drama and confusion ended yesterday with confirmation by parent company General Motors that it had decided to sell its European operations to car parts giant Magna, backed by the Russian Sberbank.
Union officials said the sale would preserve more jobs in Germany than in other European countries where GM has plants.
Workers leaving Vauxhall plants in Ellesmere Port and Luton said they felt “devastated” by the development, following earlier speculation that GM had decided against a sale.
One worker said: “I'm absolutely devastated. For the simple reason it doesn't secure the long-term future for this place. The morale is low, considering GM said this morning they were keeping hold of it. We were buoyant coming into work and absolutely decimated coming out of work.”
The Government stressed it was inevitable there would be restructuring of the business which would affect Germany as well as other countries.
Business minister Pat McFadden said: “Our objective throughout has been to get the best possible outcome for the Vauxhall workforce and the production plants in the UK.
“We have been in close contact with all parties throughout including GM in the US and Europe and all the potential bidders.
“Now GM has announced its preferred bidder is Magna we will continue our discussions with Magna. They have told us of their commitment to continuing production at both Ellesmere Port and Luton and we will work to make sure we get the best possible outcome for the UK.”
Magna said it would honour existing contracts at Luton until 2013, but has not given any commitment beyond this point.
Unite's joint general secretary Tony Woodley said: “The uncertainty surrounding the ownership of Vauxhall is now over, but the uncertainty surrounding the long term future of Britain's plants will continue.