Land Rover is putting pressure on its workers to help solve the company’s growing quality problems, according to Automotive News Europe.
Management has told employees that if they don’t accept changes at the company’s Solihull, England, plant, production of some models may be moved elsewhere.
In late April, Solihull workers voted to reject proposed changes that included not wearing pens in shirt pockets and not smoking on the assembly line.
Land Rover finished 35th of 36 brands in the recent JD Power Initial Quality survey in the USA, Land Rover’s biggest growth market. Only Hummer fared worse.
Steve Coultate, Land Rover’s factory director, sent a letter to employees on May 20 that referred to the JD Power results and warned that change is necessary.
Citing the ballot and a meeting between management and union representatives, Coultate said: “Solihull employees sent a very clear message — that they are unwilling to embrace even simple change. As a result, not only is the company questioning short-term replacement product, but more importantly whether Solihull deserves investment in the long term.”
Land Rover is part of Ford’s Premier Automotive luxury-car group.
“Other plants in the Ford family perform better than Solihull on quality, volume, cost and willingness to change,” Coultate said. “Employee motivation and flexibility are important considerations that influence investment decisions.”
A Transport and General Workers Union official, who asked not to be identified, said the dispute was about “the Jaguarisation of Land Rover.” He said Coultate came to workers with “a wish list as long as your arm.”
He accused the company of playing Jaguar and Land Rover workers off against each other as the two businesses and cultures merge.
The Jaguar and Land Rover organisations are being combined under Ford ownership. In the same JD Power survey, Jaguar finished 10th, just behind Toyota and just ahead of Honda, perennial quality leaders.
Land Rover spokeswoman Kay Frances told Automotive News Europe that management and workers will meet soon to discuss proposed changes further. The factory was closed for a spring holiday last week.