Jaguar Land Rover workers speak out over coronavirus fears - as some ‘business critical’ work continues - The Solihull Observer

Jaguar Land Rover workers speak out over coronavirus fears - as some ‘business critical’ work continues

Solihull Editorial 27th Mar, 2020   0

SOME workers at Jaguar Land Rover have been continuing on-site work this week amid the nation’s coronavirus lockdown – despite some staff concerns about social distancing.

While JLR announced last week it was shutting its plants for three weeks at Solihull and Castle Bromwich until April 20, production was due to be wound down throughout this week.

A decision was then taken to end production shifts on Tuesday. It came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced further restrictions on people’s movements on Monday night – including that people must only attend workplaces if it was “necessary” work.

But some workers have remained on-site until today – to do what JLR told us is “business critical” work.

Earlier this week, a staff member outlined their concerns to us.

They claimed that, before Tuesday, some workers were unhappy that JLR had continued to make staff work in close quarters, on non-essential tasks, despite the government’s two-metre social distancing rule designed to limit the spread of coronavirus.

One engineer at Solihull told us: “It’s clear the company intends to continue with reworking vehicles still on-site and continuing inspection and testing lines.

“All colleagues in these groups [must attend].

“There are hundreds of people still working in close proximity in the same building and multiple people are inside vehicles working on them at once.”

A leaked internal JLR communication from March 23 said ‘salaried employees must attend work, observing social distancing guidelines, subject to local arrangements.’

The manufacturer confirmed yesterday (Thursday) that production work has stopped due to plummeting demand for new cars, and the difficulty of preventing coronavirus spreading on site.

A spokesman for Jaguar Land Rover told us: “Our Solihull manufacturing plant has come to a controlled stop. We have no-one on shifts, just a small number of people are on-site to perform essential shutdown activity or business-critical work. We are following rigorously all of the Public Health England guidelines to protect our people.

“Our intention is to resume production in the week of 20th April, subject to review of the rapidly-changing circumstances. “Our return to manufacturing in a controlled manner will be subject to detailed planning and in accordance with the public health guidelines at that time.”

Automotive supply chains have suffered drastic disruption since the outbreak of coronavirus, which has claimed over 23,000 lives worldwide.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders today said auto companies are facing a ‘unprecedented challenge… with all car manufacturing plants now on shutdown as the country focuses efforts on overcoming the crisis.’

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