Unrest in car industry escalates

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The Independent Online
The threat of damaging pre-election walk-outs in the motor industry grew yesterday as Rover workers began voting in a strike ballot and union officials warned of the "inevitability" of an all-out stoppage at Peugeot.

At Rover's Longbridge plant 2,000 workers have been told a plan to invest pounds 1bn at the complex could be withdrawn if they take industrial action. Against union advice, employees who make the 400-series car sought and won a strike ballot in protest at plans to change shift patterns. Labour Party leaders are keeping an eye on unrest in the industry for fear of the Tories making capital of it.

Rover workers voted against the shift changes last year in a ballot held by the company but now management insists the new arrangements go ahead. Rover says the system, which will mean lower pay, is needed because too many vehicles are being produced.

Peugeot workers, in Coventry, are protesting about longer shifts and an alleged refusal by management to negotiate seriously over pay.