It has been reported that France’s PSA Group, which owns Opel/Vauxhall, will reduce the Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port to a four-day working week from March 23. A letter sent to staff at the north-west England plant revealed the plans and Vauxhall has since acknowledged it in a statement.

The statement claims that employees would work “extended hours” on those four work days to match the current five-day week. It did not rule out job cuts in the near future, but Vauxhall said it will “study the result of this decision and discuss with workforce representatives and trade unions whether there are any impacts”.

However, this reduction of work days and output isn’t due to the current coronavirus global pandemic, but a more mundane reason. Ellesmere Port plant director Mark Noble said it’s due to a fall in demand for the Astra Sports Tourer wagon, which rolls out of the UK plant with Opel and Vauxhall badges. Both ex-General Motors brands sold less than 137,000 Astras last year.

Reports say that Ellesmere Port has seen its workforce dramatically reduce since PSA took over the brands in 2017. Noble said this latest development “will not influence negatively whether Ellesmere Port is allocated to the new Astra”.

The next-generation Astra is due in 2021 and it’s unclear if a post-Brexit UK will continue to make the C-segment hatchback alongside the Rüsselheim factory in Germany.