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UK: Jaguar workers back call for industrial action ballot over Browns Lane closure

By just-auto.com editorial team | 21 September 2004

Unionised Jaguar workers voted "overwhelmingly" in a series of union meetings on Monday to oppose the closure of the Browns Lane plant in Coventry and the axing of about 1,150 jobs company-wide.

Production of the XJ and XK model lines, and 425 jobs, will, from September 2005, be transferred to the Castle Bromwich plant in Birmingham where the S-type line is built.

Union members also backed a call for an industrial action ballot, the Amicus and T&G unions said in a statement.

Shop stewards and members of both unions at Browns Lane voted by a margin of 86% to 14% to oppose the job cuts which take effect in a year's time. Their colleagues at the nearby Jaguar research and development facility in Whitley have also voted to support the Browns Lane workers in whatever action they take.

"Workers are furious that Ford have reneged on a previous agreement to keep Jaguar production at Brown Lane," the unions' statement said.

"The workforce has also been angered by Ford's making the announcement via the media on the plant's downturn day."

The unions said Monday's meetings at the Browns Lane, Castle Bromwich (Birmingham) and Halewood (Merseyside) Jaguar plants will be followed by 'sounding' meetings across the rest of Ford's UK operations this week - which include the Land Rover, Aston Martin and Ford Blue Oval facilities and the company's research operations at Dunton, Gaydon and Coventry.

Amicus general secretary Derek Simpson said: "The effective closure of Browns Lane goes against the promises made by Ford for the site to remain the centre for Jaguar production in the UK.

"We also believe that the 750 staff side cuts being proposed across the company means the closure of the research and development facility at Whitley and will ultimately jeopardise Jaguar's survival in the UK.

"That is why we will support and lead our members in whatever action they feel will be most effective in opposing the cuts."

T&G general secretary Tony Woodley added: "Jaguar workers are angry and feel betrayed by the company they have delivered so much for. Jaguar has undermined the trust of its workforce by breaking an agreement on the security of the West Midlands plants.

"Members are solid in their opposition to closure and they are being backed all the way by the unions' leadership."

Under Ford's closure plan announced on Friday, only 310 production staff will remain at Browns Lane making wood interior trim for Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin.