By Simon Beavis
Jaguar, the luxury car maker whose profits have been badly hit by the collapse in the value of the dollar , withdrew last night to consider their position after talks with unions failed to resolve a dispute over its plans to improve productivity. The 4,400 production workers at the Browns Lane plant in Coventry overwhelmingly rejected the increased production plan last Thursday and voted to strike if the management imposed its plans to increase production by 92 cars a week. Yesterday’s abortive meeting between the unions and management was adjourned until Monday.
The company has said that workers would receive a further £12.50 in so far unearned bonus entitlements if they were to achieve the new productivity targets. A spokesman said that under a two-year pay deal agreed 18 months ago they are entitled to earn a maximum bonus of £46.25. While he was unwilling to comment on the talks yesterday he made it clear that the company was determined to introduce increased productivity in an effort to avoid increasing the price of its cars and to counteract the dollar’s decline.
Last year £30 million was wiped off the company’s profits as the rise of the pound against the dollar hit exports to the US, which accounts for about half of the company’s sales. Jaguar had said that it would step up production after the Easter holiday but delayed the move after the workforce voted, 2 to l against the move in a secret ballot. Union leaders have made it clear that there will only be a strike if the company imposes its plans to increase output . The company argues that it has to make the changes to compete against rivals in the luxury car market, like BMW and Daimler Benz. The union says that speeding up production is not feasible.