By Clifford Webb Midlands Industrial Correspondent
BL is closing its Jaguar assembly plant at Coventry today and laying off 2,000 employees until January 5. The company said the extended Christmas break was necessary to reduce stocks of unsold cars. This is the second time in recent months that Jaguar has shut its Browns Lane plant for a fortnight in preference to extended short-time working.
The United Kingdom market for large cars is severely depressed and indications are that it is unlikely to recover for another year. However, Jaguar is switching some of the surplus capacity to overseas markets which have been traditionally short of supplies. Exports to Europe increased by 150 per cent this year while Japan and other Far East markets have seen a remarkable 230 per cent improvement. More than 65 per cent of all Jaguars are being exported, compared with 50 per cent in the summer.
Hearings will begin tomorrow into appeals lodged by nine Longbridge workers who were dismissed last week for their part in a near riot at the Metro plant on November 21. The men will be represented by full-time union officials.
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