News Mar 07, 2017 09:42 AM EST

Vauxhall joins PSA Group in €2.2 billion deal, employees fear job losses

By April Kirstin Chua

PSA Group, the company that owns Peugeot and Citroen, has entered into a €2.2 billion deal to buy General Motor's European unit that includes Vauxhall. The deal has raised fears of possible job losses because GM Europe has not made a profit since 1999.

With the addition of Opel and Vauxhall operations, PSA Group would become the second largest carmaker in Europe, just behind Volkswagen. Notably, the UK factories at Vauxhall Ellesmere Port and Luton currently employs 4,500 people. PSA said it would return Opel and Vauxhall brand to profit and is expected to save £1.47bn per year by 2026, with most of the cuts made by 2020.

PSA commits itself to continually develop the brand and accelerate its turnaround, per a press release statement on Monday. "We are confident that the Opel/Vauxhall turnaround will significantly accelerate with our support, while respecting the commitments made by GM to the Opel/Vauxhall employees," Carlos Tavares, chairman of PSA managing board, said. Tavares told reporters that he trusted the Vauxhall staff to work in a constructive manner with PSA to improve their performance.

He further noted that if PSA and its employees work together to become the best then there is no reason to fear job losses.

One worker at Vauxhall Ellesmere Port told reporters his thoughts on the new PSA deal. "I think the deal is good for current GM and Vauxhall employees, but is there a future for younger workers after 2021?" he questioned. Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, said the union would continue to work day and night to fight for Vauxhall staff at the plants.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May spoke with General Motor CEO Mary Barra on Sunday to reiterate that she wants jobs at both plants to be secured for a long time. In a statement, May's office said that Barra has made clear that Vauxhall would remain a British brand and the deal would recognize agreements regarding the workforce.

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