By Clifford Webb Midland Industrial Correspondent
BL is cutting the 10,000 strong labour force at its Jaguar, Coventry, plants by a further 800 jobs. The move, revealed to shop stewards yesterday, will bring the total number of Jaguar redundancies announced in the past month to 1,600.
Two weeks ago BL announced plans to close Jaguar’s Browns Lane paint shop, with the loss of 500 jobs. A further 300 white collar jobs also are to go. The latest cut is additional to the 25000 redundancies already under way in the rest of BL Cars, and is the clearest indication so far that the slump in car sales is worse than expected only a few months ago.
Since Sir Michael Edwardes joined BL as chairman in November 1977, the group’s United Kingdom workforce has’ been reduced by 40,000, from 172,000 to 132,000. By the end of the year it will be nearer 124,000.
Last night a Jaguar spokesman said: “The latest cuts are spread over both our Coventry plants. At this stage we expect to achieve all 1,600 by voluntary means. We have already had a good response to the call for volunteers in the paint plant, which is closing now that the new Castle Bromwich paint shop is working satisfactorily. The big problem is the lack of demand in the home market. Fortunately some export markets are holding up quite well and we are increasing our export effort. Japan and Germany are taking increasing numbers of Jaguars this year. Exports now account for some 60 per cent of output compared with the more normal 50 per cent.”
The loss of more jobs at Jaguar is another blow for Coventry which already has an unemployment rate of nearly 10 per cent, well above the national average. BL has also announced that it is seeking 4,000 redundancies among white collar workers in its car factories. Of these, more than 1,000 will go at Longbridge, Birmingham, where the new Mini Metro is in production ready for its launch on October 8.