Vauxhall Workers Get Reprieve, Hopefully

Last Updated Mar 12, 2010 8:28 PM EST

The Government has just announced a significant funding initiative to help secure the future of Vauxhall and Opel. Parent company General Motors Europe (GME) will receive a loan guarantee of £270m to help prop up the ailing motor manufacturer's operations in the UK.

Although a spokesman for the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) was reluctant to go into the conditions GME had to fulfil to receive this loan guarantee, he did confirm that the negotiations for it have been going on since November 2008, indicating the complexity of the deal.

In a prepared statement, BIS Secretary Lord Mandelson said: "I always said the Government would stand foursquare behind Vauxhall and with this announcement today we have kept our word. These are excellent plants employing a first rate workforce. We need Vauxhall to thrive as part of Britain's automotive manufacturing base and following our negotiations with GM Europe I am confident it will do so".

The BIS spokesman said it was hoped the loan would allow GME to continue restructuring its operations in the UK and mainland Europe.

This was echoed by a spokeswoman for the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), who congratulated the government for supporting the auto industry.
She said that in the society's discussions with the government it voiced a strong desire for it to underwrite research and development operations based in the country, especially in low-carbon vehicles which clearly represent the future of motoring, and for the need to attract other global auto manufacturers to produce, design and develop products in the UK.

The announcement of the loan agreement has got to be good news in terms of securing employment around the Ellesmere Port area in Cheshire, where Vauxhall's remaining plant is situated.

According to reports, the plant there reduced the working week to four days in February 2009.

However, the devil is in the detail -- and we've yet to see how GME plans to channel the government's financial support.

(Pic: P-A-S cc2.0)