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Latest News - August 2013

August 18, 2013
Strike set to bring Jaguar to a halt Union expected to reveal walkout plan that could shut three British car plants
Source: The Sunday Times
Karl West

JAGUAR LAND ROVER’S factories face the threat of shutdown as workers delivering parts to the car maker plan to strike over pay.

Staff at DHL, the logistics giant, which employs 1,800 people at Jaguar Land Rover’s three main plants are expected to give notice of industrial action on Tuesday.

It is understood that DHL contacted Ralf Speth, chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover, on Friday to inform him that it had failed to reach agreement with Unite, the union.

DHL manages warehouses and the delivery of parts to production lines. A logistics blockade would bring Jaguar Land Rover’s operations — at Solihull and Castle Bromwich in the Midlands and Halewood on Merseyside — grinding to a halt in a matter of hours.

It has also emerged that Unite is seeking legally binding assurances from the car maker that its plant in China, due to open in 2015, will not affect production in Britain.

The first vehicle to roll off the Chinese production line will be the popular Evoque “baby Range Rover”, currently made at Halewood.

A source said: “The management of Jaguar Land Rover can’t make any assurances while this DHL issue is going on.”

Jaguar Land Rover, owned by India’s Tata Group, generates export revenues of almost £11bn a year and employs 24,000 workers. In May it revealed record annual pre-tax profits of £1.7bn. It is investing £2.7bn this year to help launch new models to keep up with demand from China and India.

DHL employees often work alongside better-paid Jaguar Land Rover workers and they want a large pay rise to put them on similar terms. DHL has offered a 4.5% increase starting from January this year and 3% or the rate of inflation in 2014.

This is well short of the demand from Unite, which wants a 12.8% rise over two years for workers who bring parts to the line, plus 20.6% for drivers over the same period.

The source indicated that any prolonged manufacturing shutdown may jeopardise or delay Jaguar Land Rover’s plans to expand in Britain.

The company is in the advanced stages of plans to increase the size of the Halewood plant, which could result in up to 1,000 new jobs, as revealed in The Sunday Times. It also wants to expand the Solihull factory to cope with new Jaguar model launches.

However, sources claimed Jaguar Land Rover had been approached by officials from Mexico and Brazil who want to convince the car manufacturer to establish manufacturing bases in their countries.

Tony Burke, assistant general secretary for manufacturing at Unite, said: “We’ve got no comment to make. It’s still a difficult situation.”



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