Deal Struck to Save British Auto Plants Says Union

The two plants will continue to operate through to 2013.

Britain's biggest trade union Unite announced on Oct. 13 that ah deal had been struck with the new Canadian parent company to save two Vauxhall car plants in Britain.

Last month Unite said that the future of the plants at Luton, north of London, and Ellesmere Port, near Liverpool in northwest England, was uncertain after the sale of General Motors' Vauxhall to Canadian car parts firm Magna. However, the union revealed on Oct. 13 that the two car factories, which together employ 5,500 workers, will have now a secure future in return for an agreement on cost savings and a two-year pay freeze.

The plants were formerly run by General Motors. Magna is the preferred bidder to buy General Motors' European operations.

"After weeks of extensive negotiations, an agreement on the future of the UK Vauxhall plants has been reached between Unite and Magna," Unite said. "Unite described the agreement as a fairer deal for the UK, giving the plants at Ellesmere Port and Luton improved prospects for the future," it added.

Tony Woodley, joint leader of Unite, said that the two plants would continue to operate through to 2013."This agreement removes the uncertainty surrounding our plants and our people's jobs," Woodley said. "It gives both plants job security and a future through to 2013, providing a good basis for a long-term future beyond that."

General Motors had agreed in September to sell its European unit Opel to Magna -- which is backed by Russian finance -- two months after GM emerged from bankruptcy.

The deal ensures the survival, at least for now, of Opel, which includes Vauxhall in Britain and employs 50,000 people in Europe.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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