The leader of the largest union at Vauxhall’s UK factories said he had a “relatively positive” meeting with the boss of its prospective new owner PSA, after news of its proposal to buy GM’s European business raised fears for the future of its UK operations.
PSA, the maker of Peugeot and Citroën cars, confirmed it was in talks over a possible deal for GM’s Opel arm last week. The news prompted anger from politicians and unions in the UK and Germany, as analysts and industry insiders predict a sale could lead to thousands of job cuts.
PSA chairman Carlos Tavares met with Unite general secretary Len McCluskey on Friday, after the union boss said he “urgently” needed to meet him last week.
In a statement after the meeting, PSA said Mr Tavares stressed that “performance is paramount for the longevity of a company in a very challenging environment”, while emphasising his commitment to working constructively with trade unions.
He also “expressed his willingness to develop further the iconic Vauxhall brand to fulfil its loyal customers’ expectations, underlining the power and importance of the brand in the UK”.
Mr McCluskey, who has called on the government to offer Vauxhall the same assurances of support it gave to Nissan after the Brexit vote, said:
It was a relatively positive first meeting in which Mr Tavares gave assurances that current production commitments would be met should the takeover with PSA go ahead.
It was also heartening to hear that PSA group wants to work with Unite and recognises the skill and efficiency of our members who make the world class Astra and Vivaro vans.
Opel employ’s around 38,000 staff, with 4,500 in Britain, where it operates under the Vauxhall name.
The latest meeting follows similar attempts to build bridges with unions at Opel’s German plants earlier this week, when Mr Tavares pledged to respect all of GM’s existing job guarantees.
Mr Tavares has also agreed to meet with British prime minister Theresa May, as the government looks to protect Britain’s automotive sector from any further potential impact as it prepares to leave the European Union.