LONDON Feb 15 Britain has contacted the
president of General Motors to express concerns after the
American firm opened talks to sell its European operations,
including the Vauxhall plants in England, to France's PSA Group
Britain's Department for Business said the government
remained in close contact with GM and was monitoring the
situation after the two companies said on Tuesday that they were
in talks over a possible deal.
The talks have raised fears from unions in Britain and
Europe that a deal could lead to job cuts or plant closures
within GM's loss-making European business.
Britain's largely foreign-owned car industry has thrived in
recent years, shipping more than half of its exports to the
other 27 countries of the EU, but Britain's vote to leave the
European Union has put the industry in jeopardy.
Prime Minister Theresa May's government struck a deal last
year to keep Nissan investing in Britain after it
promised to provide extra support to counter any loss of
competitiveness caused by the Brexit vote.
If the GM-PSA deal is successful, PSA, owner of the Peugeot,
Citroen and DS brands, would acquire GM's Opel and Vauxhall
brands to give it a 16.3 percent share of the European passenger
The Unite workers' union said the president of GM had given
a private assurance last year that there would be no surprises
in terms of its plants in Britain, and that these commitments
had not been upheld.
"To Peugeot I say, talk to us," Unite General Secretary Len
McCluskey said in a statement. "Our members have helped to make
the UK auto industry the most competitive and productive in
Europe and will do so again with the right backing."
McCluskey was due to meet Britain's business minister Greg
Clark on Wednesday morning to discuss the potential impact on
the Vauxhall plants, which employ 4,500 staff near Liverpool and
Luton, north of London.
(Reporting by Kate Holton, editing by Estelle Shirbon)