Fears grow for Jaguar plant in Coventry

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The Independent Online

Ford is meeting unions at its Brown's Lane Jaguar factory at the end of this week, fuelling speculation that the US motor giant is planning to move production to its Halewood plant on Merseyside.

Ford is meeting unions at its Brown's Lane Jaguar factory at the end of this week, fuelling speculation that the US motor giant is planning to move production to its Halewood plant on Merseyside.

News of the meeting on Friday came as 51 MPs signed a motion in the House of Commons yesterday calling on Ford to respect an agreement signed with trade unions six years ago, in which the company promised to continue assembling luxury saloons and sports cars at Brown's Lane, Coventry, its oldest plant in the UK.

Six MPs have also written to Mark Fields, the head of Ford's Premier Automotive Group, asking for assurances over the future of the plant, which employs more than 2,000 people.

Jim Cunningham, the MP for Coventry South, said that the car group had promised in 1998 to continue manufacturing at Coventry if the unions improved efficiency. "Jaguar has been used as an example" of improved working practices within Ford, Mr Cunningham added.

PAG, which also includes Land Rover and Aston Martin, posted a $362m (£202m) loss in the second quarter, in part thanks to the fall in the dollar against the pound. The company said last month it would cut production of Jaguars by 15,000 units this year to clear stockpiles, but did not detail how this would affect its three UK factories.

Ford has so far declined to comment on reports about the future of Brown's Lane, which makes the XJ saloon and XK sports car. However, the MPs believe the company is preparing to make a statement next week at the Paris motor show.

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