Press Report : Weststar rescue efforts spark workers’ return to LDV

Alun Thorne, Birmingham Post, 12th May, 2009

LDV staff began returning to work yesterday for the first time for months as hopes of a relaunch of production rose following the planned rescue by Far East group Weststar.

A handful of support staff have been called back in on full pay to the Washwood Heath factory as the Malaysian group continued due diligence on LDV’s books in advance of a takeover agreement.

The vanmaker is hoping to seal the rescue plan by Weststar by the end of May, allowing hundreds of production workers to return to the factory, which has been at a standstill since mid-December.

LDV PR and Marketing Director Guy Jones said: ‘The plant has been dormant for six months and there is a lot of work to be done for the return. There is no point people coming back when they have got no computers working, for example.

‘At the moment, it is staff, rather than hourly-paid employees, who are coming back. These people will be on full pay and we will be bringing more back in gradually. The production workers are still laid off at the moment and they will be laid off for a while yet whilst we get the factory fired back up again. They are still pretty much all on half pay.”

Mr Jones said support staff required to have the factory ready for an eventual resumption of production were being contacted on an individual basis.

A potential new dawn for LDV finally emerged last week when the vanmaker confirmed that Russian owners GAZ were in talks with Weststar to take over the Birmingham plant and stave off the threat of permanent closure, with the loss of thousands of jobs.

The rescue plan was revealed after the Government agreed a bridging loan of £5million to allow the vanmaker breathing space while negotiations continue over the future of the factory. But workers still have no idea when production will resume – or whether jobs will be shed following eventual completion of the Weststar takeover deal.

[Source: Birmingham Post]

Clive Goldthorp

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