Traditional British labor strife confronts new Indian owner Tata over cost cutting.
The labor union representing Jaguar Land Rover workers publicly attacked its management today over plans to close one of two plants in the West Midlands, even though the company claims the planned consolidation by the middle of next decade will not result in the loss of jobs.
The Indian-owned luxury vehicle maker is also seeking to restructure or eliminate pensions, create a multi-tiered wage structure that could cut wages by as much as 20%, and expand low-cost country sourcing.
New vehicle sales of Jaguar and Land Rover are down globally by 30%. This has resulted in manufacturing capacity utilization of less than 60% at the struggling company, which was losing money for decades when Ford Motor owned it, well before the current economic crisis.
Tata, the Mumbai-based owner said it ran up consolidated net losses for the year to March of 25 billion rupees (£315 m) compared to net profits of 21.68 billion rupees a year ago.
Unite, the labor union representing workers, said, “Earlier this year, this company and our union agreed a framework agreement intended to support JLR through this tough economic period. Our members said then that JLR could not be trusted to uphold that agreement. Today this has proven to be true.”
The Unite national secretary for the automotive sector, Dave Osborne, went on to say, “by far the biggest liability is the company’s leadership team.”
“Well, Unite’s members will not be paying for management’s incompetence and we will not stand by while those responsible continue to wreck havoc on this business,” Osborne concluded. It is unknown if he is related the John Osborne, one of a group of “angry young men” who wrote Look Back in Anger for the London stage.
No Strikes Here!
It appears that the bloody trade disputes that post-war British car companies excelled at is about to reappear as one of the main topics in Britain’s “red top” tabloids.
The latest row was triggered by huge, unsustainable losses at both Jaguar and Land Rover as the global Great Recession drags on, and Tata’s ongoing need to cut costs.