Vauxhall Motors to slash almost third of jobs at Luton factory

·3 min read
Vauxhall Motors to slash almost third of jobs at Luton factory
The car manufacturer builds its Vivaro vans in the Bedfordshire town. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty

Vauxhall Motors is continuing to feel the effects of the global computer chip shortage, after announcing that hundreds of jobs at its Luton factory are at risk.

The car manufacturer, which builds its Vivaro vans in the Bedfordshire town, said more than 200 staff members could be let go as a result of the crisis. This figure represents almost a third of its workforce at the factory.

In a letter sent to workers, seen by the BBC, Vauxhall said it was consulting with its staff and unions over a temporary reduction of shifts from three to two.

The company said the pending “reorganisation programme” was thanks to the “knock on effects” of the pandemic, and specifically a lack of semiconductors.

The semiconductor industry makes computer chips that are vital for the car sector. Modern cars can have hundreds of chips, and some electric vehicles require thousands, so the shortage has forced manufacturers to cut production.

The shortage has put pressure on a number of carmakers over the last year, who are also competing directly with tech companies and the consumer electronics sector for supply.

Read more: The chip shortage bringing car factories to a standstill

At the beginning of the pandemic, many car manufacturers cancelled orders due to fear of a long downturn in sales. However, as sales have started to recover they have now found themselves at the back of the queue.

Vauxhall told staff its nightshift was “no longer viable" and although it aims to restrict recruitment, overtime and agency staff, "it will, regrettably, be necessary to reduce staffing levels."

A spokesperson for Vauxhall said: "As with all vehicle manufacturers globally, the semiconductor component shortage is impacting our production sites.

"Therefore, we are entering a consultation period with our employees and union partners for the Luton plant to temporarily reduce the current three shifts to two."

Andy Faughnan, from the Unite union, said: "We will do everything in our power to mitigate or prevent some of these job losses.

"There are options we want to explore with the company. I wrote to them yesterday regarding some of these options and hopefully we'll be able to save some of the jobs that are at risk of redundancy."

Read more: UK COVID rebound stalls amid recruitment and supply chain issues

Vauxhall’s Luton plant has the capacity to produce around 100,000 vans every year, and was approaching maximum output due to a surge in demand for delivery vehicles. The company added extra workers as recently as July as it geared up to meet the rise in sales.

Earlier this month Vauxhall’s managing director Paul Willcox warned that the shortage was unlikely to improve before the end of the year. He said that the problem was set to continue for the next two or three months.

Its parent company Stellantis (STLA) is set to build a new range of electric vans at the company's plant at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire.

Watch: Vauxhall's at-risk Ellesmere Port car plant to be kept motoring by electric vehicle production

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