Vauxhall workers agree on new pay deal as Opel union rejects voluntary buyouts

01 May 2018

Vauxhall workers agree on new pay deal as Opel union rejects voluntary buyouts

1 May 2018

As PSA Group’s dispute with workers in Germany continues, employees of its British brand Vauxhall have agreed on a pay deal with the French manufacturer.

PSA bought Vauxhall and Opel in August of last year and has been working to reduce costs at the manufacturer, following years of overspending and inefficiency under the ownership of General Motors. One way of doing this is renegotiating staff pay and reducing the total workforce across factories.

Ellesmere Port in the UK was one of the first to suffer job cuts, and workers at the plant, which builds the Astra model, have voted in favour of a deal that will give them a lump sum of £750 (€) and a 1.5% pay increase in January 2019, similar to a deal made with workers in Luton, which secured that plant’s future. The deal will also see the number of hours banked by workers reduced.

Unite union leader Len McCluskey comments: ‘Vauxhall members at Ellesmere Port, like their colleagues at Luton’s van plant, have overwhelmingly backed the pay deal. Our continued focus is to secure investment from PSA in new models at Ellesmere Port and guarantee the plant’s long-term future.

‘Time and again Ellesmere Port’s top class workforce has shown its commitment to the plant. PSA must now repay the workforce’s commitment by moving forward with investment in new models at Ellesmere Port as a matter of urgency.’

The deal highlights the isolation that Germany’s IG Metall union finds itself in. The group is fighting against PSA, who have offered the same terms as those signed by Ellesmere Port workers. When the French firm bought Opel, an agreement was reached for a 4.9% pay increase. However, the carmaker is trying to renegotiate as well as offering voluntary redundancies. The plan is to reduce the German workforce by 3,700.

PSA had agreed to avoid forced redundancies in Germany, pledging to work with labour representatives on a voluntary buyout program. However, IG Metall has now halted this plan, preventing deeper staff cuts.

‘The works council has demanded that management suspend the voluntary buyout plan, in particular for the Ruesselsheim, Kaiserslautern and Eisenach plants,’ a memo sent to Opel workers by the company's labour representatives, showed.

The works council said it disagrees with Opel management's plan to continue buyouts because so many employees had already agreed to early retirement and part-time work, and because targets for job cuts at plants like Kaiserslautern had already been met or exceeded.

‘Why does management want to cut more personnel than what has been communicated to authorities and toward IG Metall,’ the works council memo said.