Vauxhall staff opt out of ‘crisis-ridden’ industry

Workers at Vauxhall’s Luton plant in the UK have had enough of the crisis-hit car industry and would rather take redundancy packages than jobs.

Workers at Vauxhall’s Luton plant have had enough of the crisis-hit car industry and would rather take redundancy packages than jobs, union leaders believe.

Tony Woodley, national officer for the TGWU, which has called off any further industrial action, said the union’s main problem is finding enough people to apply for the alternative jobs they are being offered by the company.

‘We have more people applying for the redundancy package than for jobs. People are sick of being in crisis in the car industry and have decided to take the enhanced package and look for pastures new,’ he said.

Workers are also unwilling to take jobs on offer at the IBC plant in Luton, because of its bad reputation as a workplace, he added.

His comments come just a week after union officials at Ford’s Southampton Transit plant said many factory’s workers would ‘rejoice’ if the plant closed, in the hope of securing large redundancy pay outs.

Despite a relatively young workforce at the Luton plant, a spokesman said the company expects most workers to opt for voluntary redundancy. ‘We can be reasonably confident that there will be no compulsory redundancies,’ he said.

Of the 3,200 staff at the Luton site, Vauxhall plans to move 1,200 to the nearby IBC plant, 500 to build the Frontera and 700 to form the third shift at the factory building the new Vivaro van. Each will receive a one-off £7,000 payment to make up for differences in terms and conditions at the IBC plant.

Some workers will transfer to Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port site, which will continue building the Astra and become a ‘flex’ plant for the Vectra. The remaining 2,000 employees at Luton will work on the Vectra until early 2002, when car production at the factory is due to end.

The Vauxhall spokesman refused to speculate on whether the IBC plant is likely to secure the replacement for the Frontera, expected around 2004, but said Vauxhall would pursue all possible business opportunities.

Professor Peter Cooke, head of the Centre for Automotive Industries Management at Nottingham University’s Business School, said: ‘There is a good chance the Frontera replacement Vauxhall wants will be built in the UK because it is a major market for General Motors products — and if you want to be a major player in a market, realistically you have to manufacture there.’

But he warned that a decision on where the new 4×4 will be built is unlikely until 18 months before it goes into production, while GM will be watching for any downturn in the market. ‘The stock market is miserable as sin at the moment and you have to look at what that might do to the market for this type of vehicle,’ he said.