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VAUXHALL CUTS JOBS FORECAST; Demand for car firm to honour deal.

Byline: BILL GLEESON Business Reporter @BillGleeson1

CARMAKER Vauxhall has scaled back the number of jobs it plans to create when it introduces a third shift at its Ellesmere Port plant in 2016.

The news came as a surprise to trade union Unite, which said it had struck a deal about job numbers two years ago.

When the company first confirmed plans to make the next generation Astra at the Cheshire factory, it said it would recruit 800 additional workers for the extra shift. Now, however, a spokesman for Vauxhall has told the ECHO the number of new jobs has been revised down to 400.

The spokesman blamed the slow pace of economic recovery in Europe, saying: "The world is a very different place."

Referring to slow sales of cars in Europe, he added: "The volumes have dropped significantly. They are coming back here, but not as much in Europe. It all comes down to Europe.

"It's a more sensible estimate in the current climate. Two years is a long time in this industry.

"We will get to a situation where we will need an extra shift. Our intention is to do it some time in 2016. It takes a while to find the right people and get them trained. It's very early stages."

However, a spokesman for Unite said the cut in the number of jobs was news to the trade union. He added: "We shall wait to see what they have to say, but we expect the agreement which brought the Astra to Ellesmere Port to be honoured in full."

Production of the next generation of Astra is expected to start in the fourth quarter of next year. The third shift would be introduced in 2016 as sales gather pace.

Facilities at Ellesmere Port are currently being upgraded in anticipation of the introduction of the new Astra. At present, the plant employs 1,800 staff on two shifts.

Manufacturing takes place four days a week, with workers currently enjoying a three-day weekend. However, the spokesman said those arrangements would change once the third shift is introduced.

Economic growth in the European Union was a meagre 0.3% in the first three months of 2014 and car sales there remain far below pre-financial crisis levels.
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 14, 2014
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