Vauxhall workers stage protest

Car giant General Motors was hit by a Europe-wide day of protest by thousands of workers today against plans to axe thousands of jobs and end production at a Vauxhall plant in the UK.

Workers at the Luton factory, where car assembly is set to end in a year's time with the loss of 2,000 jobs, failed to turn up for duty.

Employees at the Ellesmere Port site also took action as part of a union campaign aimed at reversing the decision to stop building Vectras in Luton.

One union official said the Luton factory was like a "graveyard" as workers stayed away in their thousands. An estimated 40,000 GM workers took some form of action today, according to unions.

Nearly 4,000 workers rallied outside a factory run by GM subsidiary Adam Opel AG in Ruesselsheim outside Frankfurt, police said.

Germany's IG Metall union said it was important for all European workers to show solidarity with the employees targeted for layoffs. "Any plant in Europe could itself be the next one affected," said one official.

GM, which employs 90,000 across Europe, is also cutting 3,000 jobs in countries including Germany.

Vauxhall workers in the UK will start voting next week on whether to take industrial action as part of the union campaign aimed at reversing the closure.

Mass meetings will be held at Luton and Ellesmere Port early next week when union leaders will urge support for a strike.

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