Business secretary Greg Clark has travelled to Paris for talks with the French government and PSA over the french company's prospective takeover General Motors’ European Opel operations, including Vauxhall.
Clark is to meet with French industry minister Christophe Sirigue and PSA just hours after Unite’s Len McCluskey said he was seeking “urgent talks” with PSA.
The union leader met Clark and GM President Dan Ammann today for crunch talks. McCluskey told Sky News “no assurances” had been offered to Vauxhall workers in the UK, after he had called for Nissan-style guarantees for UK car plants earlier this week.
Concerns have been mounting over the future of thousands of jobs at Vauxhall, which employs 4,500 staff at plants in Ellesmere Port and Luton, while there are thousands more people working in its retail network and reliant on the firm’s UK supply chain.
And both Unite and the government are now looking to secure a meeting with Peugeot-maker PSA which announced the sale talks were taking place on Tuesday.
"My immediate priority now is to understand where Peugeot is now in this process, which is why I am contacting the CEO of the company, Carlos Tavares, to request urgent talks," McCluskey said.
Unite is committed to talking to all the concerned parties in the UK, Germany and France to ensure that the case for the UK workers is pressed at the highest levels.
But I also say this; our government should demand that whenever the car makers are meeting with the French and German governments, then the UK government must be at the same table.
PSA boss Tavares is expected to slash costs at the new business to bolster its financial situation. GM has suffered more than $15bn (£12bn) of losses at Opel since 2000.
The business secretary, meanwhile, called the talks “constructive”, though he noted “there is some way to go in discussions between GM and PSA”.
Clark said: “I was reassured by GM’s intention, communicated to me, to build on the success of these operations rather than rationalist them.”
GM did not provide further details, saying in a statement that its aim with the sale “is to build on the success of Opel Vauxhall and to put the business and the operations in the strongest possible position for the future”.
Ammann flew to London after meeting German officials who were also concerned about the deal, over in Germany on Wednesday. Opel employs around 35,600 people in Europe, and 18,250 of those are in Germany.
Any completed deal would see the new company become Europe’s second largest car firm with a 16 per cent share of the European market.