15th Sep, 2019

REACTION: Councillors, union leaders and politicians have say on Jaguar Land Rover job losses

Felix Nobes 19th Apr, 2018 Updated: 20th Apr, 2018

COUNCILLORS, union leaders and politicians have all had their say on the Jaguar Land Rover job losses.

The luxury car manufacturer has confirmed around 1,000 agency staff will be cut at its Solihull plant.

It will also transfer 350 workers from its Castle Bromwich site to Lode Lane as the company attempts to cut back production.

Although united in condemnation of the cut backs, some have raised concerns about Brexit and its effect on the car industry and others have challenged the government’s new restrictive diesel legislation.

The government has recently announced tax levies on newly registered diesel cars in an attempt to reduce demand for the fuel which is said to produce more toxic air pollution than petrol.

Another concern, due in part to economic uncertainty caused by Brexit, is the opening of a new JLR factory in Slovakia in search of cheaper labour and production costs.

Union Unite said the heavy cutbacks should have ‘alarm bells ringing’ in government about the UK’s faltering automotive sector – with leaders predicting more job losses.

Here’s what they said:

Unite:

Unite said it will be negotiating to retain jobs and support JLR workers facing unemployment.

Unite national officer for JLR Des Quinn said: “This announcement is a blow for a top-class workforce that has worked hard to turn JLR’s fortunes around in recent years.

“It should be a wake-up call for minsters and have alarm bells ringing in the highest levels of government.

“Confusion over diesel cars prompted by badly thought through ministerial announcements, plus faltering consumer confidence allied with Brexit uncertainty are the major factors behind this announcement.

“With falling car sales a sure sign that consumers are tightening their belts, the government needs to get the economy out of the slow lane and provide certainty over the UK’s future trading relationship with Europe.

“Ministers also need to help ensure a ‘just’ transition from diesel and petrol engines to electric powered vehicles to secure decent high skilled jobs in the UK as part of a vibrant industrial strategy.

“In the coming days Unite will be working closely with the company in our fight to retain jobs while giving our members the maximum support possible through this difficult time.”

Julian Knight MP:

“The news that has come to us today, from Jaguar Land Rover is disturbing, and I am in regular contact with JLR on this issue.

“More generally, I think it is a mistake for the green lobby to propose measures against diesel vehicles which are often less polluting than other vehicles, and where there are relatively easy fixes in place in order to reduce emissions.

“The demonisation of diesel is now having very real consequences for the UK car industry, which is key to Britain’s growth.”

Solihull Green councillors:

Coun Max McLoughlin said: “It’s sad to see our local Conservatives want to blame people like Friends of the Earth for exposing the impact of diesel.

“It’s galling when the evidence points to their pet project of Brexit.

“Whenever responsibility needs to be taken, they point fingers which is very sad.

“Last year it was announced JLR are investing €1.4billion in new a Slovakian plant.

“Those I’ve spoken to at JLR, almost a year ago, had told me that this move was down to Brexit.

“The EU are actually investigating the legality of the €125million in support JLR are getting from the Slovakian government to build that plant.

“We could be talking about the impact of globalisation after Brexit, or the automation in manufacturing that will be taking even more jobs in the future, but it seems that the Solihull MP is pointing the finger at consumers for making cleaner choices.”

Baroness Lorely Burt of Solihull:

Former Solihull MP and Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords Lorely Burt blamed Brexit for the job losses.

She said: “The throttling back is in response to Brexit and falling demand for diesel models is having an impact on the economy.

“You can literally see the Midlands Engine of our economy spluttering because of Brexit.

“But that spluttering means jobs, investment and growth. The motor industry is the jewel in the crown of UK manufacturing.

“Before the Brexit vote, JLR was a superb success story and jobs and the supply chain companies were growing strongly.

“But thanks to Brexit, and issues over diesel engines, these challenges have caused serious challenges for JLR. They will over time grow again but businesses are facing a Brexit headwind.”

Leader of Solihull Council, Coun Bob Sleigh:

Coun Sleigh offered the council’s support to those residents who may be affected by the job losses.

He said: “JLR are an important employer in our borough who over many years created thousands of jobs both here and in the wider region. So it was disappointing when the news came through that agency workers at Solihull were to lose their jobs.

“Since the announcement we have been working with the company and with other partners to understand the full implications and what we need to do to support Solihull residents who may be affected.

“We are still creating many jobs here in Solihull and in the West Midlands as recent figures show. With a co-ordinated effort we will work hard to ensure those affected are provided with advice and support to take on those roles.”

The West Midlands Combined Authority: 

A spokesperson said: “Our region is attracting record investment and seeing strong economic growth so it’s regrettable that jobs are being lost although it is for JLR to comment on the reasons for those losses.

“Through our industrial strategy and investment in transport, skills and innovation we will continue to support the businesses and people of the West Midlands to help them grow and succeed.

“We believe it’s important that government goes into the Brexit negotiations with a clear understanding of what is best for the West Midlands and we will continue to press for companies like JLR to be given as much clarity as possible on what the eventual deal with the EU may look like.

“This will help support the on-going growth of the West Midlands’ manufacturing sector although in the longer term we believe Brexit has the potential to also open up new trade opportunities for our region.”

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