Brown seeks to safeguard Vauxhall jobs

PRIME Minister Gordon Brown is set to lead talks at Ellesmere Port car plant this week, as part of a government push to safeguard thousands of jobs at Vauxhall&rsquo;s UK plants.<br /><br />The move comes after US parent General Motors (GM) sold off a 55 per cent stake in its European arm to Canadian car parts group Magna, which is backed by Russian bank Sberbank.<br /><br />Unions in the UK expect German plants to be given priority in a major restructuring of the business, after Berlin put up around &pound;4bn in loan guarantees to the buyers.<br /><br />Around 10,000 out of 54,500 jobs across Europe are thought to be at risk after Magna bought up Opel, which is known as Vauxhall in the UK.<br /><br />But Germany, where around half of GM&rsquo;s staff are working, will take on just 25 per cent of the job cuts. The UK, Spain, Belgium, Austria and Poland will take on the rest.<br /><br />The Prime Minister is visiting the Ellesmere Port plant, where the electric Ampera model will be made, to meet senior management at GM and discuss the future of jobs. GM wants to make 220,000 models of the plug-in hybrids each year until 2015.<br /><br />In a separate move, business secretary Peter Mandelson is looking to meet with Magna bosses this week to offer up around &pound;400m of taxpayers&rsquo; money if the group safeguards the Luton plant.<br /><br />Luton has no contract to build models past 2013, when its contract to produce vans ends. Vauxhall employs around 5,000 people in the UK.