Peugeot boss’s remarks fail to allay job fears, says our MD, Simon Hill
Our MD, Simon Hill, spoke out after Peugeot’s parent company PSA, attempted to allay concerns over car plant closures following the £1.9 billion takeover.
He said that unless Government action was taken now, the UK’s Vauxhall plants in Luton and Ellesmere Port could close within five years.
He added: “The fact remains that the jobs of British car workers are easier to shed than those of the Germans or the French.
“We also need to know what this deal means for GM vehicle components. PSA is 76 per cent Chinese owned so will this have an impact on component quality and supply?”
Simon described as “disturbing” comments by Carlos Tavares, chairman of the managing board of PSA, when Tavares was asked about the future of GM’s sites in the UK and Germany.
Mr Tavares said that British employees at Vauxhall in Britain, and workers at GM’s Opel plant in Germany, would be given the chance to achieve the necessary “benchmark” of efficiency.
He told a media conference in Paris: “We do not need to shut down plants. We believe we need to trust the talents of people. They always come up with ideas and solutions we could not imagine.”
But far from being reassured by Mr Tavares’s words, Total Motion believes his statement is worrying in that it puts the onus to perform well squarely on the shoulders of the GM employees.
Simon added: “Our British GM car plant workers are already very efficient and Germany is renowned for how well its motor manufacturing operations are run.
“The local economies of Ellesmere Port and Luton rely heavily on Vauxhall and this comment will do little to reassure GM workers who are worried about their job security.”
Simon said it was frustrating that so few people realised just how much vehicle manufacturing contributed to the UK economy.
He added: “The cars we make aren’t British-owned, but they are produced by skilled British labour here in Britain.”
“Thanks to UK-based plants such as Toyota in Burnaston, Nissan in Sunderland, Honda in Swindon, Mini in Oxford, and West Midlands-based Jaguar Land Rover, the UK is making more cars than ever before.
“Our home industry deserves our support and increasingly Total Motion is seeing some of its major fleet customers, with hundreds of cars and vans in their fleets, insisting on British manufactured vehicles.
“We’d like to see more of this commitment, with more motorists and business fleets choosing cars made here.
In France, for example, French motorists are loyal to French makes such as Renault, Citroen and Peugeot, while German consumers go for cars produced by Mercedes and Opel.”
Simon said it was hard to forecast what affect Brexit would have on the deal, although he suspects the outcome of the French General Election might have an affect further down the line.
He added: “If France decides, like we did, to come out of the EU, then I can see that PSA will want to keep manufacture of Peugeot and its newly acquired brands in France.
“It’s also a possibility that PSA Group will seek to extract the technological knowledge and product development skills from our UK plants and use them elsewhere in its business.”