Press Report : Lord Mandelson refuses to speculate over JLR jobs

Jonathan Walker, Birmingham Post, 25th September, 2009

Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, has warned that carmakers need to make cuts in order to remain competitive, as he defended Jaguar Land Rover’s announcement that it is to close a West Midlands factory.

Lord Mandelson said he would not “speculate” on the effect this could have on jobs in the region but he accepted that workers at Jaguar’s plant in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, and Land Rover’s plant in Solihull might fear their jobs were at risk. Speaking to journalists at Westminster, the Business Secretary claimed: “JLR is showing real commitment in the West Midlands and Merseyside.”

Car manufacturers recognise that they have to take out some capacity to lower costs and to remain competitive, and to sustain their companies’ viability. Now these are often difficult and painful decisions. But I’m not going to speculate about one particular company and their decisions that have not yet been made.” Lord Mandelson, Business Secretary

However, when asked if he understood concerns that JLR’s announcement could cost jobs in the West Midlands, Lord Mandelson said: “Of course. And across car manufacturing, there is uncertainty because there is global overcapacity in the industry. And car manufacturers recognise that they have to take out some capacity to lower costs and to remain competitive, and to sustain their companies’ viability. Now these are often difficult and painful decisions. But I’m not going to speculate about one particular company and their decisions that have not yet been made.”

Lord Mandelson said he welcomed JLR’s announcement that the LRX car will be built in Halewood, Merseyside, ensuring the plant’s future and creating 800 jobs in the North West but, when asked for his view on possible job losses in the West Midlands and the effect on the supply chain, he said: “You are assuming that decisions have been made which have not yet been announced, judging by your question.” He added: “I can’t speculate on what different or further decisions the company are going to make. I know that some want to do that, but I can’t speculate.”

Meanwhile, Conservatives demanded a meeting with JLR executives to learn how the announcement will affect the West Midlands. Shadow Business Minister Mark Prisk said: “People in the West Midlands will be concerned to learn of Jaguar Land Rover’s plans to close one of their factories. Despite the company’s statement that they are not planning any compulsory job losses, it is important that the full impact of these plans are understood for the long-term future of the business and for the West Midlands economy. We will therefore be seeking a meeting with the senior management at Jaguar Land Rover at the earliest opportunity.”

Despite the company’s statement that they are not planning any compulsory job losses, it is important that the full impact of these plans are understood for the long-term future of the business and for the West Midlands economy. We will therefore be seeking a meeting with the senior management at Jaguar Land Rover at the earliest opportunity.” Mark Prisk MP, Shadow Business Minister

Birmingham MP Sion Simon (Lab Erdington), whose constituency includes the Castle Bromwich site, said JLR owners Tata must keep both West Midlands plants open. He said: “As MP for Erdington, my message to Tata is clear. Jaguar must not close. It is the jewel in the crown. It is vital it stays open. As a Birmingham MP, my message is that Land Rover must not close either.”

Lorely Burt (Lib Dem Solihull) said: “The fact that there is no job losses involved is an extremely important commitment to workers and the West Midlands economy. The unions, the workforce and local politicians have got to pull together and get the right outcome, and ensure the future of the company is sound.”

Richard Burden (Lab Northfield), Chairman of the West Midlands Select Committee and the All-Party Parliamentary Motor Group, is to invite JLR representatives to Westminster to explain their plans to MPs.

[Source: Birmingham Post]

Clive Goldthorp

About the Author:

Clive claims that his interest in the BMC>MG story dates back to his childhood in the 1960s when the family’s garage premises were leased to a tenant with an Austin agency. However, back in the 1920s and 1930s, his grandmother was one of the country’s first female Garage Proprietors so cars probably run in his genes! Admits to affairs with Alfa Romeos, but has more recently owned an 06/06 MG TF 135 and then a 15/64 MG3 Style… Clive, who was AROnline’s News Editor for nearly four years, stood down from that role in order to devote more time to various Motor Racing projects but still contributes articles on as regular basis as his other commitments permit.

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