Vauxhall is to cut a further 250 jobs at its plant in Cheshire as it slashes production of the Astra.
The carmaker, sold to Peugeot owner PSA by General Motors last year, said the losses would be on top of 400 redundancies announced in October as it moves to a single daily manufacturing shift from April to bolster its competitiveness.
It said the latest decision amounted to an extension of the voluntary redundancy scheme revealed in the autumn – launched in response to falling sales.
Vauxhall said: “At a meeting held on Thursday 4 January 2018 between representatives from Vauxhall Motors and Unite the Union, the company explained that although the initial voluntary separation programme at its Ellesmere Port plant announced in October (aligned to adjustment of production volumes in order to protect its future) has been successful, it needs to initiate a further voluntary programme for eligible employees of a further 250 heads in the period from April to the end of September 2018.
Image: The Ellesmere Port plant is moving to a single production shift
“The teams are conscious of the need to accelerate the recovery of plant productivity in order to meet the challenges ahead and as an important element of this recovery, this additional separation programme will support the planned move to a single production shift at Ellesmere Port during April 2018.”
The statement added: “Vauxhall Management affirmed the company’s continued commitment to the Astra plant at Ellesmere Port.
“The company remains confident in the ability of the Ellesmere Port workforce to deliver the necessary improvements in financial performance.”
Sales of the Astra – built at the factory since 1979 – slowed to just shy of 50,000 cars in 2017 from more than 60,000 in the previous year.
It was the UK’s sixth-favourite new model but has traditionally trailed Ford’s most popular competitors and the likes of the VW Golf.
Ellesmere Port has been producing 680 models daily in recent times – before the decision to cut down the workforce.
At the time of Vauxhall’s £1.9bn sale to PSA, the buyer made clear its plant network across Europe was in a race for competitiveness because future investment would depend on “performance”.
The car industry in the UK has distanced itself from suggestions it has benefited from the collapse in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote – insisting it is having to pay suppliers outside the UK more for parts.
Commenting on Vauxhall’s plans, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “This is an additional blow to a world-class workforce that is one of the most efficient in the industry.
He added: “PSA must provide investment guarantees on new models for Ellesmere Port as a matter of urgency.
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“The government must play its part too and provide guarantees on frictionless trade after Brexit.
“Unite’s priority is to support our members and protect this plant. We will not tolerate compulsory redundancies and Unite will leave no stone unturned in securing the long term future of Ellesmere Port and the highly skilled workforce.”