Astra deal seals job prospects around Merseyside factory

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The UK economy has received a boost with confirmation of a £125m investment in a Vauxhall car plant, creating thousands of jobs.

The car giant announced that the next generation of its Astra model will be built at the firm’s factory in Ellesmere Port on Merseyside, guaranteeing the future of the plant into the next decade.

About 700 jobs will be created at the site, with another 3,000 expected in firms supplying parts and services.

Vauxhall chairman Duncan Aldred, who first worked at the Ellesmere Port factory 20 years ago as a graduate, said it was a “historic day” for Vauxhall.

The factory will move from two to three-shift working to build the Astra, while “unprecedented” levels of flexibility will be introduced.

The announcement followed a 94 per cent vote in favour of a pay and conditions package by the 2,100 workers at the site.

Mr Aldred said: “We have been able to develop a responsible labour agreement that secures the plant’s future. This is assisted by the Government’s industrial strategy, increasing its focus on the manufacturing sector and creating ideal ground for companies to build up long-term investments.”

The workforce agreement comes into force in 2013 and runs into the early 2020s. It includes a four-year pay agreement, production during 51 weeks each year and scrapping traditional summer and other closures.

Astra assembly should start in 2015, with at least 160,000 vehicles produced each year. Vauxhall intend to find suppliers for 25 per cent of what goes into the cars locally – further boosting employment prospects.

Business Secretary Vince Cable travelled to the US to lobby owners General Motors, saying that the Ellesmere Port case “made itself”.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Importantly, this move will also bring component supplier plants back into the UK, a development that strengthens our manufacturing base generally.”