THE Government is seeking urgent talks with General Motors after the car giant’s dramatic decision to scrap plans to sell Vauxhall, a move welcomed by union leaders in Ellesmere Port and Luton.
The GM board decided after a six-hour meeting in the US not to go ahead with the sale of its Opel and Vauxhall brands to Canadian car parts firm Magna - a deal which had threatened thousands of jobs across Europe, including 5,500 in the UK.
President and chief executive Fritz Henderson said the decision to keep Vauxhall followed a more benign business environment in Europe and GM’s improved financial health.
Workers arriving at the Ellesmere Port and Luton plants expressed "cautious optimism" that the U-turn would be better for the long-term security of their jobs.
Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said: "I am keen for very early discussions with GM over their plans for the business and how they will affect British plants and workers.
"I have always said that if the right long-term sustainable solution is identified, then the Government would be willing to support this."
Tony Woodley, joint leader of the Unite union, and a former Vauxhall worker, said the move was a "fantastic decision", adding: "There’s no logic in breaking up the company. I believe it is the right decision in spite of a good deal that we’d struck with Magna.
"It is the best decision for Britain and our plants. I am absolutely delighted that General Motors have finally done the right thing for them and for us."
John Featherstone, Unite’s convenor at Ellesmere Port, said he believes there will still be some restructuring in the UK, but unions are generally happy to be dealing with GM.
"Detail is in short supply and we don’t know what the immediate effect will be, but I am pleased we will be dealing with GM because we know them and we understand their culture - and they know us. I hope Lord Mandelson will now demand that GM gives us guarantees about future production."