'UK car plant is on the brink of closure'

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The Independent Online

A UK car factory is on the brink of closure, with a potential impact on 100,000 jobs, Unite union representatives warned the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday.

The joint general secretaries told Alistair Darling he must act quickly and provide major financial support for the ailing motor industry.

"The problems in the car industry have reached crisis point. Unless there is urgent assistance, UK manufacturing will not recover after the recession," Derek Simpson, from Unite, said. "We made it absolutely clear that the prospect of a plant closure will have a devastating effect on UK manufacturing. Immediate and effective intervention is required from the Government."

All the major manufacturers have been hit hard by the downturn in the global industry. BMW laid off 850 staff at its Mini factory earlier this week. Honda has closed its factory for four months in an attempt to rebalance supply and demand. GM is looking for buyers for its Vauxhall brand in an attempt to extricate itself from its financial problems.

Jaguar Land Rover, which has already axed more than 1,400 staff, has agreed a package of measures that could cut costs by £70m per year, in return for a guarantee of no further compulsory redundancies for two years.

The proposals – which include shorter working hours for some, longer working hours for others and changes to the pensions structure – were put to workers by their union representatives yesterday. The ballot on whether to accept will be early next month.

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