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Old 07-21-2003, 06:11   #1 (permalink)
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UK: Land Rover Freelander production move called spiteful

Land Rover's decision to snub its home town of Solihull, near Birmingham in the English Midlands, in favour of building the next generation Freelander at the Jaguar plant at Halewood, near Liverpool, was claimed to be "spite" for workers opposing sweeping changes to working practices, a local newspaper reported.


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Old 07-21-2003, 12:20   #2 (permalink)
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Land Rover: Industry News

Channel 4
21/7/2003

Production of the Land Rover Freelander is to be moved from Solihull, near Birmingham, to the Jaguar X-Type factory at Halewood, Merseyside. This is part of a new cost-cutting programme for Ford's Premier Automotive Group (PAG), which comprises Land Rover, Jaguar, Volvo and Aston Martin. The move will take place in 2006, when the next-generation Freelander will go into production, and will leave Solihull to make the next Discovery and Defender models, which will share the same basic platform, and the Range Rover. It will affect 1000 Land Rover employees, though the company says that 1000 new jobs will be created at Halewood, and relocation packages will be offered.

This move makes the long-term future of the Solihull plant look a little less assured, despite a confirmed investment of £200million in the facility over the next few years. Ford has struggled with problems of productivity, vehicle quality and disputes over working practices at the facility; assembly staff have even protested against management requests for them to stop smoking whilst working, or eating sandwiches whilst on the production line, for example - practices unthinkable at Honda, Nissan or Toyota's UK factories. PAG chairman and CEO Mark Fields has said that if matters do not improve, the factory will be closed. Those seeking relocation to Halewood will have to sign an agreement to accept the stricter working practices enforced at that plant.

Ford is also expected to announce 2000 redundancies amongst its white-collar staff in America on Friday. This will cut 5 percent of its back-office employees, in a move to cut its wage bill and stem falling profits, and is in addition to the 10 percent cut already achieved in the last two years through voluntary early retirements. The company is also to cut back on its use of agency staff, and freeze hiring for the foreseeable future. Negotiations with unions have begun, and further measures are expected to include the closure of four US factories and the redundancies of thousands more factory-floor workers.

Employees of Peugeot in the UK are also negotiating this week. They have voted to take a cut in working hours, rather than shutting down the night shift, which would have meant the loss of 700 jobs. This will take effect from September, when production of the 206 will be reduced.
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Old 07-22-2003, 01:40   #3 (permalink)
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Jaguar and Land Rover announce production realignment for Halewood and Solihull plants

Jaguar and Land Rover announced a realignment plan this week to bring production of their highest volume products under one roof.
Assembly of Britain's best selling 4x4, the Land Rover Freelander, will transfer mid-decade to Halewood on Merseyside with the next generation model. The Halewood plant, one of the highest performing plants in the Ford Motor Company, will build the Freelander alongside Jaguar's highest volume premium product – the award-winning X-TYPE.

At the same time, Land Rover confirms the investment of Ł200 million pounds at the Solihull site in plant and equipment for a new Land Rover multi-vehicle platform to maximise production flexibility. The construction work, which is already advanced, will support the next generation Discovery and other future Land Rover products later this decade.

The Land Rover Solihull plant will concentrate on production of the company's larger premium and specialist 4x4 vehicles. These models will benefit from reduced production complexity at the plant.

The Halewood plant on Merseyside, which was successfully transformed to manufacture Jaguar products, recently agreed a number of new working practices which will ensure that the plant remains competitive and committed to continuous improvement. The plant has attracted widespread praise for its efficiency and flexibility.

The Solihull plant will benefit from being able to focus exclusively on the larger premium and specialist sectors of the market. Land Rover has invested heavily at Solihull in recent years in products such as the universally praised new Range Rover and 2003 Discovery.

Premier Automotive Group Chairman Mark Fields said: "This is the most logical way forward for both plants and is designed to drive greater efficiency in both the Jaguar and Land Rover businesses. This move will allow both plants to operate to maximum efficiency and is an intelligent use of the resources available. This will ensure we increase the production effectiveness and competitiveness of both plants, while enabling the Solihull plant to demonstrate its commitment to continuous improvement. At the same time, we are acknowledging the excellent progress made by Halewood."

Chairman and Chief Executive of Jaguar and Land Rover Bob Dover said: "Given the close collaboration between the two companies, this is a rational business decision. The retention of Land Rover vehicle assembly here in the UK means that this move is 'job neutral' – in other words, our objective is to create as many jobs in Britain by this action as we will take out.

"Halewood has an excellent reputation for building higher volume premium vehicles and the Solihull plant has over fifty years experience of building larger premium and specialist 4x4 vehicles. The reduction in production complexity will certainly benefit Solihull and its products and will allow the plant to focus on improving competitiveness."

This realignment of production will involve employment of around 1,000 jobs at the Halewood site and a reduction of jobs at the Solihull plant of a similar number. The company intends to work closely with the unions in order to achieve the required reduction by voluntary means. To help minimise any impact on the Solihull workforce, a substantial sum has already been set aside to facilitate retraining and help employees plan for this change. This is in addition to any voluntary separation programmes.
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