January 10, 2018 / 8:36 AM / in a year

British union chief to warn Peugeot over Vauxhall plant's future

LONDON, Jan 10 (Reuters) - The head of Britain’s biggest trade union will warn Peugeot’s chief executive at a meeting this month that any plans to close the firm’s Vauxhall car plant in northern England will cost it sales in Opel-Vauxhall’s largest market.

Peugeot-maker PSA bought General Motors’ loss-making European arm, which operates as Opel on the continent and Vauxhall in Britain, last year and has been pursuing a restructuring plan to return it to profitability.

The French group said on Monday it would cut a further 250 jobs at its Ellesmere Port car plant in Britain, reducing the workforce by a third to make it more efficient, renewing workers’ fears about the site’s future.

The firm is due to decide as soon as this year whether to build new cars at the site, in the latest test of Britain’s ability to attract investment as it leaves the European Union.

Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey said on Twitter he would meet PSA Chief Executive Carlos Tavares in the next two weeks and would warn him about the impact any closure would have on Vauxhall’s market share.

“I’m going to France in the next fortnight to meet with Carlos Tavares to tell him that we will not allow PSA to close a healthy UK plant,” Len McCluskey said.

“I will make it crystal clear to the PSA boss Carlos Tavares that if there is any attempt to close the Ellesmere Port Vauxhall plant we will make sure their market in the UK is finished for good,” he said.

Opel-Vauxhall sold nearly 290,000 vehicles in Britain in 2016 compared with 260,000 in Germany.

Peugeot, which is also cutting hours for workers at Opel, has said the job losses at Ellesmere Port are needed to boost efficiency at the plant by reducing it to one shift. (Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Edmund Blair)

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