[ROVERNET - UK] land rover jobs warning

Alan Gale agale at ihug.com.au
Sun Sep 5 13:58:07 BST 2004

Sep 5 2004

By Paul Malley, Sunday Mercury


A former Ford boss last night warned thousands of Land Rover workers: 
"Your jobs are in serious danger."

Karl Ludvigsen, former vice-president of Ford Europe, spoke to the 
Sunday Mercury ahead of Wednesday's make or break meeting to decide the 
future of the 4x4 builder's Solihull plant.

Last week shocked union negotiators and Land Rover management were given 
just a weekto redrafttheir'roadmap' to secure the Lode Lane factory and 
its 8,000 jobs - or face the prospect of eventual closure, possibly 
within 30 days.

The seven-day extension to May's original eight-week deadline was set by 
the American company's European chief Mark Fields, who is demanding that 
workers improve quality and productivity levels.

Workers have suggested that the move was just a case of Ford, which owns 
Land Rover and Jaguar, playing brink-manshipgames inordertogain 
concessions from unions.

But in a stark warning to Lode Lane employees, Mr Ludvigsen said Ford 
was considering moving production to a Jaguar plant in Halewood, 
Merseyside - and possibly even the US.

Mr Ludvigsen, who was vice-president of Ford Europe in the 1980s, said: 
"If Ford says it is looking at shifting production outofone 
plantandintoothers, it means it.

"It would not be saying the things it is about Solihull without having 
alternative plans. Ford is serious about the possibility of closing the 

"Between Jaguar and Land Rover there are four plants making seven models 
selling 300,000 units a year. That is not efficient. Ford's style is to 
make one model selling 300,000 a year from one plant.

"Mark Fields is under pressure from Ford, so he is putting pressure on 
Land Rover to stop haemorrhaging money.

"He is looking for change in the way it operates in terms of efficiency 
and quality. Solihull has a reputation that it can't produce quality.

"Jaguar is also under serious pressure with models not achieving what 
the company had hoped.

"Ford does not want a reputation for shutting plants, but if it makes 
economic sense it will do it. Just look at what happenedat Dagenham. It 
will take some serious pain in the short term for future gain."

And he added: "If Land Rover production is to be moved, I think it could 
be to the Jaguar plant in Halewood. There is also a possibility that 
production could take place in the US."

Ford has already decided that the production of Land Rover's Freelander 
model will be moved to Halewood in 2006.

There has also been speculation that it could shut Jaguar's Browns Lane 
factory in Coventry within two years with the loss of up to 2,500 jobs.

Union chiefs and Land Rover bosses say they are confident that a deal 
can be struck with Mr Fields.

Ford's Premier Automotive Group, which includes Land Rover and Jaguar, 
lost £202 million in the last quarter.

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