A vote in favour of a new pay and conditions deal has paved the way for investment at Vauxhall's leading car plant in Ellesmere Port. The new pay deal is likely to see the plant operating 24/7, as workers voted 94 per cent in favour of more flexible working hours.

The factory, which was opened in 1962, will now build the new Astra, securing 2,100 jobs. Not only that, but hundreds more jobs will be created as it moves its production cycle from two shifts to three.

Vauxhall is owned by General Motors, the world's largest car manufacturing company, and the move allays fears that the plant would close in a restructuring programme. Business Secretary Vince Cable held talks with GM executives in a bid to safeguard the factory's future, though he has denied that the government have offered financial incentives to keep the car plant open.

The announcement comes after reported heavy losses for the company. Opel, General Motors' European arm, lost £470 million last year. With Ellesmere Port remaining open, it is thought that cost-cutting will take place elsewhere, with the German plant in Bochum the most likely casualty.