Rover says dispute is over

ROVER expects to end its dispute with car workers at its Longbridge plant this week in a deal that will mean more than 1,000 job losses, more flexible working practices and other cost-cutting measures.

A Rover spokesman claimed: "We are optimistic that we will have a positive outcome. The unions have accepted flexible working-time accounts and that jobs will be lost. We're still working on the nitty-gritty, but we're very close to a solution."

Despite the company's optimism, negotiations are tense. Last week, after union protests, Rover had to cancel a public briefing on working-time accounts and other flexible working practices. The company wishes to save pounds 150m annually at Longbridge, around 20 per cent of total labour costs, but insists that this figure will not be achieved solely by job cuts. Shedding 1,000 jobs would save pounds 30m annually.

The unions have suggested that, even with efficiency gains through flexible work, the company will have to sack 2,400 Longbridge employees. But Rover is understood to think this figure is exaggerated.

Based in south Birmingham, Longbridge is the city's largest employer and considered to be the largest factory in Britain.

The depth of Rover's problems are beyond doubt. Stock market analysts predict that Rover will lose pounds 150m this year, and some forecasts are significantly higher. Goldman Sachs is predicting a loss from Rover of pounds 500m this year.

Low productivity, the high pound and the loss of currency hedging have all been blamed for Rover's plight. However, it was revealed last week that Rover's sales in October fell 34 per cent compared with the same month last year and that Rover's market share had dropped to 6.6 per cent, a new low. These poor figures were blamed on the dispute, which has overshadowed the launch of the Rover 75, the first model entirely developed in BMW's ownership.

The near-disastrous performance on the car market underlines the fact that it is vital for the Rover 75 to succeed if the Rover marque is to have a future. The Rover 200, 400, 600 and 800 range has failed to impress car buyers. Sales of the 200 and 400 have been bitterly disappointing.

The future of Rover will soon claim the attention of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Peter Mandelson. After talks with BMW chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder and Rover chairman Walther Hasselkus last month, Mr Mandelson indicated that a government subsidy for Rover might be forthcoming once the question of productivity at Longbridge has been resolved.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test