Archive : Land Rover men reject sale to US

By Paul Wilenius

Thousands of angry workers yesterday gave a huge thumbs down to any American takeover of their company. The 8,500 workers at the Land-Rover plant in Solihull and a further 1700 men who make Sherpa vans at the Freight Rover factory in Birmingham voted overwhelmingy against selling out to the U.S. car giant General Motors. Union conyenor Joe Harris said the workers may be forced to back a management buy-out of the company.

“We want to remain British, independent and public,” he said.

Trade and industry Secretary Paul Channon will be told at a meeting with the unions today that the proposed sale to General Motors should be scrapped. The unions in the Midlands are already seeking the support of loyal Tory MP’s, in ths battle to keep Land-Rover and the rest of Leyland vehicles British.

“They are totally opposed to any takeover. It’s as simple as that.” said Mr Harris.  Officials of the AUEW engineering union have said the men would back the bosses buy-out plan if this would save more jobs. The unions fear there would be large-scale redundancies if the Americans bought the company.

Already £40 million has been put aside for redundancy payments. Two West Midland Tory MPs yesterday appealed to the Cabinet to keep Land-Rover British and warned of the political dangers if a General Motors takeover led to big job losses. Sir Reglnald Eyre (Birmingham Hall Green) told Mr Channon of the anxieties in the region. And Roger King (Birmingham Northfield) wrote to Midland Cabinet Ministers Peter Walker and Norman Fowler warning of the economic implications for the area.

Keith Adams

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