12 December 2000
28. Following discussions in early December
2000, the GME Board made its decisions on Friday 8 December 2000.
They were announced in Detroit on Tuesday 12 December 2000, as
part of a global series of cutbacks, including the closure or
radical reduction of several US plants and the termination of
the Oldsmobile brand, with the loss of around 4,000 jobs in the
29. In Europe, capacity at the giant Russelsheim
plant is to be reduced from 470,000 to 270,000,
as well as undergoing "a previously announced "leanfield"
conversion". It was announced that Opel would "discontinue
plans for the introduction of an Omega V8 version". Mr Reilly
told us that the reduction in capacity at Russelsheim was comparable
to that at Luton, and that the number of job losses would be greater,
but the plant is not to close. It is planned to build 173,000
new Vectras there in 2002, rising to 264,000 in 2003.
Small plants were closed in Poland and Turkey. The GM Press Release
referred to a reduction in GME's total installed capacity of "more
than 400,000 units" by 2004 and a reduction in total employment
levels of 5,000 within the next 12-18 months. GM Europe are to
shed 10% of its salaried staff in 2001. In response to our request,
we were provided with a detailed schedule of the impact throughout
Europe of the December 2000 plans.
It is evident that General Motors are indeed engaged in cutting
back capacity and numbers employed in Germany as well as at Luton.1,000
people are to lose their jobs at Bochum in addition to the cuts
30. GM announced that production of the Vectra at
Luton would move to one shift early in 2001 "and would cease
at the end of the life of the current Vectra model, which will
be by the end of the first quarter of 2002". Although nowhere
explicitly stated, this announcement inevitably revealed that
the new Vectra would not after all be produced at Luton. The Press
releases from GME in Zurich and Vauxhall in the UK stated that
the Frontera would continue to be constructed at Luton, and emphasised
the plans for Vivaro van production.
31. The Secretary of State made an oral statement
to the House of Commons the next day, 13 December 2000.
He described the decision on Luton as a "bitter blow",
while emphasising that the announcement had been part of an overall
restructuring by General Motors. Five minutes after Vauxhall's
the DTI and DfEE set out what is by now the sadly familiar remedial
package of assistance from the Employment Service and a local
partnership the Vauxhall Luton Partnership comprising
the regional and local authorities and others.