Jaguar and Swan to axe 2,000 staff as recession deepens

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The Independent Online
MORE THAN 2,000 job losses were announced yesterday as recession bit deeper into the car and shipbuilding markets.

Jaguar said it would cut 700 jobs at its plants in Coventry and Birmingham, while Swan Hunter, the Tyneside shipbuilder, is to axe 725 full-time jobs and 700 short-contract posts.

At the same time Iveco Ford Truck said it was seeking 100 voluntary redundancies of hourly-paid staff at its Langley production plant west of London.

Jaguar, taken over by Ford in 1989, said sales this year would, at best, match last year's 23,000 units because of the downturn in its main markets. There was no sign of recovery, either this year or well into 1993.

Jaguar, whose workforce has shrunk from 12,000 to 8,000 in two years, said the latest job losses would be voluntary where possible, but that compulsory redundancies could not be ruled out. Nick Schele, chairman, said the luxury car maker would have closed by now had it not been taken over by Ford.

'At the moment we are looking at frightening levels of loss which an independent company could not sustain,' he said.

Jaguar made a loss of pounds 226m in 1991 compared with a loss of pounds 66m the previous year.

Yesterday's announcements follow warnings by Renault, Volvo and Daimler that conditions in the automotive industry would deteriorate as the year progressed.

Earlier this month Ford put 3,800 more workers on short time and Rover put 2,000 on a three-day week until the end of September.

Meanwhile, Ford announced reductions of up to pounds 1,000 on 1992 models in an effort to boost sales. Car manufacturers are concerned that August new car sales will not meet last year's 367,646, which was already down from almost 433,000 in 1990. August usually accounts for a fifth of annual new car sales in the UK.

In the North-east, privately owned Swan Hunter said that it hoped its need to trim the workforce would be temporary.

Roger Vaughan, joint chief executive, said: 'Shipbuilding, particularly warship building, is a cyclical business and we consistently expanded our employee force to undertake existing contracts, including the three type-23 frigates.

'We very much regret having to take this action . . . although we are confident about our prospects for both the Royal Navy's amphibious fleet and export orders, we need to take this step in the short term.'

The reductions bring the full-time workforce down from 2,900 to 2,200.

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