Discussing Vauxhall’s potential sale to Peugeot, the Unite general secretary insisted Britain’s divorce from the European Union was not a reason for jobs to go to the continent and stressed the importance of single market access.
Vauxhall’s future is uncertain as its owner General Motors considers the sale of its European arm to France’s Peugeot.
Mr McCluskey, who has been dubbed Labour’s kingmaker in the past due to Unite’s bankrolling of Labour, said Theresa May’s Brexit negotiations over the next two years needed to focus on the single market.
Speaking on Bloomberg, he said: “The reality is of course Brexit is a factor in play and that’s why of course we’re in discussions with our government about, from my union’s point of view, hoping to keep access to a tariff-free single market.
Len McCluskey insisted single market access was vital
There’s a strong case to maintain the plants in Britain
“There’s lots that will have to be done in the next two years in those areas. But with General Motors, we also need to make certain that nobody’s looking to use Brexit as an excuse to attack our jobs.
“The UK is Vauxhall Opel’s largest market within Europe, fifth largest in the world. It’s a profitable market and the plants in the UK are amongst the highest productivity plants in the whole of the automotive sector.
“So there’s a strong case to maintain the plants in Britain and of course we’ll be liaising with our sister unions across Europe to make certain that the solidarity that we hope to create will make Peugeot and General Motors respond in positive fashion.”
The owner of Peugeot cars is looking at a deal to purchase GM's Opel business as it looks to bolster profits and cut costs.
French manufacturer PSA Group said it was "exploring strategic initiatives" with GM, including a "potential acquisition" of Opel.
Opel sells its vehicles under the Vauxhall brand name in Britain.
A PSA Group spokesman said PSA and GM's cooperation agreement, since 2012, had led to three joint European projects that had yielded "quite big synergies".
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He said: "PSA Group, together with GM, is exploring strategic initiatives around improving its profitability and operational efficiency, including a potential acquisition of Opel."
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PSA's announcement comes after GM reported a loss of $257 million on its European operations for 2016, the sixteenth consecutive loss-making year for GM on the continent. This takes GM's cumulated European losses since 2000 to more than $15 billion.
The US giant hopes to return to breakeven in Europe by 2018 after the impact of Britain's vote to divorce the EU and subsequent weakness in the pound sterling weighed on last year's performance.
Meanwhile, Mr McCluskey has previously called for an end to the “abuse by greedy bosses” of migrant workers who had been “responsible” for driving down wages and terms and conditions.