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Baker & McKenzie employment partner Monica Kurnatowska (scroll down for video interview) would be the first to admit that as a lawyer acting predominantly for employers it’s not always the case that the employees on the other side of the table reach the end of a deal feeling upbeat.
But when it came to saving Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant, the fact that thousands of UK jobs were safeguarded means this genuinely was the case.
Last summer the plant was saved from closure after Kurnatowska and her team helped thrash out a pay and conditions deal between long-standing Bakers’ client GM and the Unite trade union.
Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the deal as “excellent news for Ellesmere Port and for UK manufacturing”, while business secretary Vince Cable paid tribute to the “team UK effort” that included Bakers’ Kurnatowska.
Kurnatowska pays tribute to several senior members of the negotiating teams on both sides of the deal and echoes Cameron when she points out that numerous jobs had been not only saved but also created.
“As part of the deal, GM is committed to a significant increase in parts sourced from a cluster of UK suppliers,” says Kurnatowska. “It’s also committed to hiring more people, so from a UK perspective this deal was vital. You always feel committed to your clients but this really felt significant.”