Peugeot to axe 850 jobs in Coventry

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The Independent Online

Unions are seeking urgent talks with executives at car giant Peugeot following the firm's announcement it is to axe 850 jobs at its main UK factory under plans to end a production shift.

Unions are seeking urgent talks with executives at car giant Peugeot following the firm's announcement it is to axe 850 jobs at its main UK factory under plans to end a production shift.

Peugeot said it would do everything it could to minimise the impact of the cuts at its Ryton, Coventry site which employs around 2,800 workers.

A shift which runs from Friday to Sunday is to be axed in the summer as the French-owned company moves to adjust its output to market demand.

Ryton produces the Peugeot 206, and last year built around 180,000 vehicles, 60% for export.

A spokeswoman for the Transport and General Workers' Union said many of the jobs would be shed through voluntary redundancies and contracts not being renewed.

"While the job losses are bad enough, the major concerning issue is Peugeot's failure to highlight a new model for the 206," she said.

"We are, therefore, looking to talk as a matter of urgency to the chairman of the company and the Secretary of State Patricia Hewitt to resolve this and secure a long term future for the plant."

Dave Osborne, national officer of the TGWU, said: "It is a double blow following a cutback last year from four to three shifts.

"We will oppose any attempt to make compulsory redundancies, and we will be seeking an urgent meeting with senior Peugeot executives in the light of the renewed concerns for future models at Ryton, which the announcement must surely raise."

Peugeot said in a statement: "Despite the Peugeot 206 continuing to be one of the best-selling retail cars in Europe, the small car segment has seen a considerable broadening of the product offering. This has impacted on the sales volumes of the Peugeot 206.

"As a result, Peugeot has to review its manufacturing strategy for the car and adjust its output in line with market demand."

The company said that since the start of the year a number of measures have been taken at Ryton to match production to demand more accurately. But it added that these were no longer enough, and so the firm had decided to end the so-called C shift.

The factory, which has been building Peugeots since the mid-1980s, will return to a two shift operation that was worked at the site from 1988 in 1999.

Peugeot said similar returns to a two shift system had also taken place at other European factories within the Peugeot Citroen Group.

The statement went on: "Ryton will continue to be one of the three production sites for the Peugeot 206 in Europe, and will play a key role in the company's manufacturing strategy as it will become the main European production site for the car for several years to come."

Peugeot said it will open talks with employee representatives and intended to offer voluntary redundancy and early retirement as well as exploring redeployment opportunities to other sites.

The company said it will work with local employment services and business contacts to organise jobs fairs at the site and will offer help and advice to workers effected by yesterday's announcement.

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