Jaguar workers to discuss strike action to save jobs

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The Independent Online

Workers at Jaguar will meet today to discuss the possibility of strike action to stop the closure of its historic Coventry car plant and the loss of 1,150 jobs.

Workers at Jaguar will meet today to discuss the possibility of strike action to stop the closure of its historic Coventry car plant and the loss of 1,150 jobs.

Tensions between management and staff are riding high after Friday's announcement, which took place when the factory in Browns Lane - where Jaguars have been assembled since 1952 - was closed for the day. Unions representing the workforce are angry that staff were not on site to hear the announcement first hand from management, and it is expected that a ballot for strike action could result from meetings with shop stewards this morning.

A spokeswoman for the Transport & General Workers Union said yesterday: "We are expecting members to oppose the closure of Browns Lane. It will be up to them as to what further action they want to take, but a ballot on industrial action is highly likely." Amicus also represents workers at Jaguar and is also expecting its members to ballot on strike action.

And industrial action could ignite beyond Coventry. As well as the 400 manufacturing redundancies, Jaguar also announced the loss of 750 office staff from across its UK business.

Ford Motors, which bought Jaguar in 1989, blamed the job losses and factory closure on the dire financial position of Jaguar, which was the main cause of a $362m loss in Ford's Premier car division last quarter. Mark Fields, the vice president of Premier, said the loss could not be ignored. Joe Greenwell, the chief executive of Jaguar, said it risked financial ruin if it carried on operating three assembly plants.

Ford gave assurances that closing Browns Lane for all but the production of wood veneer panelling would ensure the long-term future of Jaguar. But workers believe this could be the beginning of a retrenchment by Ford to move manufacturing to the US.

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