Vauxhall deal secures future jobs
The future of a car factory has been secured for years after workers agreed to a "ground-breaking" pay and conditions deal clearing the way for investment worth £125 million.
Vauxhall announced that the next generation of its Astra model will be built at its site in Ellesmere Port, Merseyside, creating 700 direct jobs and 3,000 positions in firms which supply the plant with parts and services.
Chairman Duncan Aldred, who first worked at the Ellesmere Port factory 20 years ago as a graduate, said it was a "historic day" for Vauxhall.
The factory, whose future had been under threat, will move from two to three shifts working to build the new Astra while "unprecedented" levels of flexibility will be introduced. Confirmation of the investment followed a 94% vote in favour of a new pay and conditions package by the 2,100 workers at the site.
Assembly of the new car is scheduled to start in 2015, with a minimum of 160,000 vehicles to be produced each year, 20,000 more than last year. Vauxhall will also raise the local supply content for the Astra to at least 25%, which will create further employment locally and in the UK.
The new deal will see a four-year pay agreement, including a two-year wage freeze from 2013, production on 51 weeks a year and scrapping of the traditional summer and other closures which have been a part of UK industry for decades.
Mr Aldred said: "With Ellesmere Port's proven build quality and a new agreement that ensures excellent cost competitiveness, this facility will provide additional employment and, as the lead plant for the next-generation Astra, will be one of the cornerstones of our European manufacturing footprint."
Prime Minister David Cameron said: "This has been a real team effort, with the Government, the company, unions and workers all focused on keeping production in the UK. The workforce at Ellesmere Port should take great pride in their skill, hard work and commitment, which has proved vital to ensuring this great result today."
Business Secretary Vince Cable said he was "proud" to be at the factory for the announcement, describing it as a "very great day". Mr Cable travelled to the US to lobby Vauxhall owners General Motors on behalf of Ellesmere Port, saying that its case "made itself".
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "From a position of uncertainty earlier this year, there is now a potential for a future at the plant until 2020 and beyond. Importantly, this move will also bring component supplier plants back into the UK, a development that strengthens our manufacturing base generally."