[ROVERNET - UK] land rover jobs warning
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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