JLR union wants talks with Tatas on UK plans

Written by fe Bureau | Mumbai | Updated: Dec 14 2012, 06:00am hrs
A day after Tata-owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) expressed its interest in setting up an automotive facility with National Industrial Clusters Development Program (NICDP) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the companys main union sought assurance over the future of its five UK plants, said separate reports in The Guardian, Liverpool Daily Post, Shropshire Star, and online portal just-auto.com.

Unite, the UKs biggest union, has demanded for an urgent meeting with senior management at JLR and Tata Motors, according to reports.

I have personally asked for an urgent meeting with Tatas chairman and vice-chairman where I expect assurances over the future of JLRs UK plants, said Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey, according to reports in The Guardian and The Liverpool Daily Post.

A JLR spokesperson told FE, The union has gone to the media directly. Hence, we dont want to comment on that. However, the spokesperson added, JLR is committed to UK and will continue to invest in the market. Our plans outside the UK are for supplemental volume. JLR has invested 355 million in a new engine plant and 370 million in Solihull. We have created close to 8,000 jobs in the UK in the last two years, the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, the union said that at the time of acquisition of JLR by Tata Motors, the company had assured them that British-branded products would always be designed, manufactured and built in Britain.

Three years ago, Unite was delighted to back Tatas acquisition of JLR against fierce opposition. We also received guarantees that the future of Halewood, Castle Bromwich, Solihull and the two design studios would be secure for the long term, Unite general secretary said.

JLRs UK plants are running full capacity. The Halewood Freelander and Evoque factory are already working three shifts, seven days a week, to keep up with demand, according to reports.

Of late, JLR has seen its volumes rise in the emerging market prompting it to look for a facility in these markets.

Other than Saudi Arabia, the company has also announced its plans of setting up assembly facility in China with Chery Automobile Company in China to manufacture vehicles at a new plant near Shanghai. The Indian assembly facility, too, is expected to see further expansion.