British Union Fears Vauxhall Could Be Given Away in Fiat-GM Deal

May 4, 2009
Vauxhall employs more than 5,000 workers in Britain

The leader of Britain's main carworkers' union said on May 5 he feared car manufacturer Vauxhall could be "given away" under plans to create a European car giant.

Vauxhall employs more than 5,000 workers in Britain and forms part of the European business of General Motors, which is at the center of a takeover launched by Italian carmaker Fiat.

Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of the Unite union, said: "These proposals are not so much a sale as a giveaway. Fiat has struggled for years to get back into profit and now they want to swallow two elephants -- GM Europe and Chrysler simultaneously.

"Inevitably, plants will be reduced across the EU if this takeover goes ahead, and there are real questions over what this will mean for UK plants where Fiat already owns similar operations. Quite frankly this move sends shivers down my spine."

He said that in a "perfect world", GM Europe should remain part of the global GM family.

"But if that is not to be the case then my preferred solution is that our government, in concert with the German and Spanish governments, takes some ownership which would stabilise the industry.

"If our government is serious about manufacturing, as it says it is, and serious about ensuring manufacturing will be key to seeing this country out of the recession, then I urge them to do the sensible thing and act to protect our plants."

Vauxhall, which makes the popular Astra and Corsa models, employs about 1,200 staff at Luton in southern England and 2,500 at Ellesmere Port in the northwest with the rest at car dealerships across Britain.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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