According to documents seen by the German paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Canadian car parts group Magna – which bought Vauxhall and Opel from GM Europe after the collapse of its US parent – is cooking up a plan to slash 11,000 jobs across Europe. Including some 1,400 here in the UK.
The report suggests that 4,000 jobs will be lost in Germany, 2,500 in Belgium, 2,000 in Spain, 1,400 in the UK and 400 or so in Poland. But if you were thinking that Vauxhall has got off lightly by that reckoning, think again. The UK losses amount to 30% of the total workforce here: by comparison Germany would lose only 17%.
If true, it does rather look as though the conspiracy theorists who foresaw a German-government arranged stitch-up to favour Opel in Germany, at the expense of Vauxhall and the rest of the old GM Europe operation, might have had a point. Magna has already agreed, as a condition of receiving a 4.5bn Euro loan from the German authorities, to keep all four Opel plants in the country open.
Now it seems that it may be about to go one better, saving expensive German jobs while sacrificing cheaper and more productive ones elsewhere. Take the Spanish Opel plant at Saragossa for example. It’s one of the most efficient in Europe, and yet under the terms of this plan big chunks of its Opel Corsa production work would be shifted back to Eisenach in East Germany. 2,000 Spanish jobs would go, only 42 at Eisenach.
In the UK, the Vauxhall plant at Luton – which produces the Vivaro van - is front runner for any cuts that are coming this way. The firm’s other plant at Ellesmere Port, which makes the Astra, is thought to have a more secure future.
But either way, it’s looking rather like German chancellor Angela Merkel has pulled a fast one on Lord Mandelson. Perhaps Mandy should try to take some time out from the rough-and-tumble of preparing for the next election to devote a bit more effort to his cabinet job? But for a political animal of his undoubted calibre, that wouldn’t be nearly so much fun, would it?
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1,400 jobs to go at Vauxhall now Magna's at the wheel?