Rover in jobs and hours shock
Shocked workers at Rover’s Cowley works were today reeling from the double blow of possible job cuts and a four-day week. The company, which earlier announced it was planning to cut its overall workforce by 1,500, has now said that cost-cutting measures will spell a four-day week on some lines at the Birmingham, Solihull, and Cowley factories.
Rover said: “Some workers on the 600 and 800 models will go on to a four-day week, but I cannot say yet how many people will be involved or go into precise dates.” One of the 3,500 workers at the Cowley plant, where the 600 and 800 models are produced, told the Oxford Mail: “It’s a bit odd because only recently they announced taking on people here at Cowley for a new project. We were told 1,000 people would be employed, so this has come as a bit of a shock.”
Another worker said: “We’re all a bit shocked. A lot of money has been invested here and we don’t know whether this news will affect the new jobs. I can’t see them putting 1,500 people out and employing another 1,000.”
But a Rover Group spokesman said the company still wanted to take on another 1,000 workers for the new R40 model that will be built at Cowley. Rover is blaming the strong pound for the job losses and four-day week. The T&G union today rejected Rover’s proposals.
Tony Woodley, motoring industry national secretary, said: “Any suggestion that the workforce should have to suffer a loss of wages because of circumstances outside their control is unacceptable.”
Rover launches car supply ‘village’
ROVER has launched a £10m centre at Cowley which will create more than 100 jobs and dramatically speed up delivery of parts to assembly lines. The advanced logistics centre is part of £400m investment being pumped into the Cowley car plant ready for production of its latest luxury model, codenamed the R40, to be unveiled at the International Motor Show in Birmingham in October.
Transport Minister Gavin Strang opened the new 22,000 square metre centre yesterday which has been jointly developed by Rover and Exel Logistics. The centre houses a “supplier village” allowing several of Rover’s components suppliers to provide just-in-time parts through a tunnel, built under rail lines, direct to the assembly lines.
A railhead next to the centre was built with the help of a £315,000 grant from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions so that cars for export can be loaded directly on to trains. Doug Dickson, managing director of Rover Oxford, said the trains would take more than 1,500 vehicle movements off the roads each year.
He said: “We are determined to achieve the most rigorous standards in all aspects of our new car programme – and that includes the way we work with Exel Logistics to literally deliver world-class standards of logistics. “It is possible to create a virtuous circle of improved manufacturing and environmental benefits if you look hard enough for innovative solutions.”
Leigh Pomlett, managing director of Exel Logistics Automotive, said: “This partnership benefits both Rover Group and the local community. We expect to recruit over 100 new people as a direct result of this new facility.”