Opel’s U.K. Ellesmere Port plant saved. But Germany? image

Vauxhall and its UK factory have been saved by a ground-breaking ‘round the clock’ flexibility deal that secures thousands of jobs. General Motors will build the next generation of its Astra compact in Britain, rather than in Germany.

“It’s been confirmed this morning that they (the workers) have been balloted, that they’re willing to adopt tough but flexible labour practices,” Britain’s Business Secretary Vince Cable told BBC radio on Thursday.

“We confirm that have we made an offer to build the new Astra in Ellesmere Port from 2015 onwards,” an Opel spokesman said.

“The offer contains a lowering of structural costs and enhancement of flexibility at the plant.

GM’s European arm, Opel/Vauxhall, is expected to announce that production of the new Astra model will be split between the Merseyside site and a plant in Gliwice, Poland.
So – no Germany!

The Bochum plant in Germany, which employs more than 3,000 workers, could be a casualty. The decision is likely to mean the closure of the Opel factory in Bochum within two years.

In an address to workers at Russelsheim, the main GM plant in Germany, earlier this week the head of GM’s European division Karl-Friedrich Stracke hinted that the site would no longer produce Astras and would concentrate on Opel models instead.

Last week the prime ministers of four German states have issued a strongly-worded statement that production must remain in Germany. But …

Switching to round-the-clock production has been a priority for parent company GM Europe, which lost $700 million in 2011 and has been struggling to turn round its Opel and Vauxhall brands.