(Adds details, quotes)
By Costas Pitas
LONDON Feb 20 The head of Britain's biggest
trade union is likely to meet the CEO of PSA Group on
Friday amid growing concerns over the future of Vauxhall plants
if the French carmaker buys the business from General Motors, a
union source told Reuters.
Peugeot-maker PSA is in talks to buy GM's loss-making
European business, which operates under the Vauxhall and Opel
brands, with overcapacity at existing sites, Britain's move to
leave the European Union and pension liabilities all likely to
influence any deal and possible restructuring.
PSA boss Carlos Tavares is also due to meet business
minister Greg Clark "towards the end of the week," a government
source said, in a key test of Britain's ability to retain
investment after its Brexit vote in June.
German media reports over the weekend suggested PSA had told
Berlin it would continue production at all four of Opel's German
sites, although Germany's deputy economy minister said on Monday
there had been no binding assurances.
"We are increasingly concerned after reports that German
plants are safe," the trade union source told Reuters, adding
the head of the Unite trade union, Len McCluskey, was likely to
meet Tavares in London on Friday.
The pensions deficit at GM's British division is up to 1
billion pounds ($1.25 billion), a separate source familiar with
the matter told Reuters. Many multinational companies are trying
to rein in rising pension liabilities.
Britain's overwhelmingly foreign-owned car industry has been
lauded as a success story by politicians and is set to hit
record production levels by the turn of the decade, but any
tariffs following Britain's departure from the EU would hit
margins and could see output cut.
Last year, Japanese carmaker Nissan asked for a
pledge of compensation if its plant was hit by Brexit, but went
on to invest in two new models after what a source described as
a government promise of extra support to counter any loss of
Prime Minister Theresa May also plans to speak with Tavares
and is determined to protect Britain's car industry, her
spokesman said on Monday.
"It's going to be a private conversation. There's been a
request for a meeting and we will try to make that meeting
happen, but I am not going to go into what the nature of that
conversation will be," he told reporters, adding the timing of
the meeting depended on "diary compatibility".
(Additional reporting by Elizabeth Piper in London and Edward
Taylor in Frankfurt; Editing by Kate Holton and Mark Potter)