CBI chief slates 'stone age' union campaign

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The new director general of the CBI, Richard Lambert, weighed into the row over the closure of Peugeot's Coventry plant yesterday, describing the union campaign to boycott sales of the company's cars as "stone-age economics".

Mr Lambert made his remarks as he toured the French car maker's stand at the British International Motor Show and highlighted the fact that even after the Ryton plant shuts next year with 2,000 job losses Peugeot will still employ more than 5,000 people in the UK.

The CBI chief urged the Amicus union, which is spending £1m on the boycott campaign, to remember that other European countries which had stricter laws to safeguard workers' rights also had higher unemployment rates.

The Motor Show in London's ExCel centre in Docklands has itself been boycotted by Volkswagen and Fiat. Among those companies who are present, Land Rover is giving a world debut to its new Freelander 2 while Jaguar has unveiled three new models including the top-of-the-range all-aluminium super-charged XKR. The coolest car on show, however, was Ford's 6.5-tonne ice sculpture of its new Focus coupé cabriolet, which took two weeks to complete. It is expected to have melted by the time the doors open to the public tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the chief executive of General Motors, Rick Wagoner, told reporters that an equity link was not necessary if a tie-up with Nissan and Renault were to go ahead. He also refused to be drawn on whether he would step down in the event of an alliance between the three car makers, saying such speculation was "not helpful".