Work­ers tell of low morale as they wait for axe to swing

Solihull News - - FRONT PAGE - ASH­LEY PREECE ash­ley. [email protected] reach­plc. com

AG­GRIEVED staff at Jaguar Land Rover plants have lifted the lid on their anger and bit­ter­ness among col­leagues, with one ad­mit­ting: “Most peo­ple are wait­ing for the axe to swing”.

Em­ploy­ees re­turned to work a fort­night ago fol­low­ing a twoweek shut­down pe­riod af­ter JLR chiefs an­nounced a freeze in ve­hi­cle pro­duc­tion.

It came af­ter the lux­ury UK car gi­ant an­nounced that sales had fallen by 13.2 per cent to 129,887 ve­hi­cles for the three months to Septem­ber 30.

The com­pany also re­ported rev­enues of £ 5.6 bil­lon and a pre­tax loss of £ 90 mil­lion for the same pe­riod.

And one of its big­gest sup­pli­ers, Uni­part, re­vealed that it had a con­tin­gency plan if JLR was to an­nounce an early Christ­mas shut­down.

A num­ber of work­ers at Cas­tle Bromwich, Tyre Fort in Erd­ing­ton, and Soli­hull say staff are wary fol­low­ing months of uncer­tainty. One agency worker at Tyre Fort said: “Work­ers here think that there is some sort of shut­down still go­ing ahead. There is no mo­ti­va­tion and morale is low. “Some peo­ple have been told off the record that things will get worse. If we have an­other shut­down, agency work­ers are un­sure if we will be paid again. “The job hunt is still go­ing strong for me, with more than 70 jobs ap­plied for.” Else­where, a JLR em­ployee at Cas­tle Bromwich says the ma­jor­ity of the work­force are “p*** ed off” and the “at­mos­phere is de­press­ing”.

“There’s a lot of bit­ter­ness be­cause no­body is telling the lads and girls on the shopfloor what’s go­ing on, when they’re off etc,” he added.

“It’s the usual cloak and dag­ger stuff that al­ways hap­pens. If they an­nounce a re­dun­dancy, peo­ple will take it be­cause, quite frankly, they’re p*** ed off.

“This sit­u­a­tion is mostly down to JLR try­ing to grow too big too quick. Most peo­ple are just wait­ing for the axe to swing. There is

zero trust in the man­age­ment. Although Brexit is an is­sue, the vast ma­jor­ity of the prob­lems can be traced back to poor de­ci­sions when ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing my­self, warned them.

“The trou­ble is that they wouldn’t lis­ten. Un­less TATA change how the place is run, there is no fu­ture.”

Else­where, a DHL worker at JLR in Lode Lane, Soli­hull, says staff have been do­ing over­time to pay back time owed dur­ing the two- week stand- down.

“Ev­ery­one is an­gry,” he said. “We came back off a two- week stand- down to find out they are putting over­time on of a week­end and peo­ple are hav­ing to do the over­time to pay back the hours. We are un­sure if a stand- down is hap­pen­ing at Christ­mas. Lots of ru­mours are go­ing around.”

Ac­cord­ing to a Man­power worker on the pro­duc­tion line at Lode Lane, JLR has been “too re­liant on sell­ing diesel cars” and “there’s noth­ing but neg­a­tiv­ity”.

“The Gov­ern­ment isn’t help­ing with the diesel sit­u­a­tion,” he said. “But I think JLR are too re­liant on sell­ing diesel cars. They built a new- build hall and body shop at Soli­hull four years ago, along with new fac­to­ries in Brazil, Slo­vakia and China. Why didn’t they adapt these build­ings straight­away and start build­ing hy­brid and elec­tric cars back then? They could have got ahead of all their com­pe­ti­tion, rather than now play­ing catch- up with the likes of Tesla and BMW. These elec­tric cars may be the com­pany’s one sav­ing grace, although they are just a bit late to the party. There are end­less ru­mours about shifts be­ing cut, Christ­mas stand­downs, and staff be­ing laid off. It’s al­ways in the back of my mind if I’m go­ing to lose my job or not and it’s been like this for most of the year.”

Jaguar Land Rover chief ex­ec­u­tive Dr Ralf Speth has said that the com­pany is tak­ing ac­tion to re­verse re­cent losses.

He re­cently said the firm has “launched far- reach­ing pro­grammes to de­liver cost and cash­flow im­prove­ments”. Dr Speth added: “To­gether with our on­go­ing prod­uct of­fen­sive and cal­i­brated in­vest­ment plans, these ef­forts will lay the foun­da­tions for long- term sus­tain­able, prof­itable growth.”

Work­ers leave the Cas­tle Bromwich fac­tory and, right, JLR chief ex­ec­u­tive Ralf Speth

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