May 17 - General Motors will build the next generation of its Astra compact in the UK, leaving its plant in Bochum, Germany in danger of closure. GM will invest $200 million in the plant, as it looks to consolidate its production due to falling demand. Joanna Partridge reports.
Relief for workers at Britain's Vauxhall car plant. Thousands of jobs have been secured as General Motors will build the next generation of its Astra compact at Ellesmere Port from 2015. The decision comes after workers at the factory in northwest England voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new pay and conditions deal. SOUNDBITE: John Fetherston, Unite Union, saying (English): "They put the proposals to us, we put them to the workforce. The workforce accepted them because they got a new model and a future till 2020." Duncan Aldred, Chairman of Vauxhall Motors, says the U.S. carmaker is going to invest 125 million pounds in the plant. SOUNDBITE: Duncan Aldred, Chairman of Vauxhall Motors, saying (English): "We'll be operating on three shifts, building a minimum of 160,000 vehicles per year, but now with a capacity that runs well over 220,000 units per year, which will be record volumes for this plant." Production of the new vehicle, which is sold under the Opel brand in Europe, will lead to the creation of 700 new jobs, says Britain's Business Secretary Vince Cable. SOUNDBITE: Vince Cable, Britain's Business Secretary, saying (English): "A very good example of a company investing large amounts of money in Britain. A very co-operative, very flexible labour force, trade union negotiating in a very productive way and government getting behind the industry, selling the industry, supporting it, supporting the supply chain, supporting training. And I think it's that sense of a team effort which has persuaded the Americans that this where the future lies." But while the British workers are celebrating - there's an uncertain future for some of GM's other European plants. The new Astra will only be built at two factories, not the current three, and a source told Reuters one of the German plants will close - probably Bochum. That would be dramatic, even at a time when European carmakers are looking to restructure or consolidate. Demand has been falling for years and the euro zone crisis will only make it worse. Joanna Partridge, Reuters