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Unions at Rover fight Phoenix choice of boss

Unions this week attempted to block the appointment of Kevin Howe as chief executive of Rover Cars. TGWU official Tony Woodley is thought to have told Phoenix head John Towers that Mr Howe would not be an appropriate choice.

Mr Howe's relationship with shop stewards was said to be strained during his two years as managing director at the Birmingham Longbridge plant.

The move raises worries about a return to union power which once plagued Rover.

The Phoenix Consortium has finalised plans to move Rover Cars back into positive cashflow within 14 months and generating profits by 2002, according to press reports. The Financial Times claims to have seen a document outlining a production target of 200,000 at Longbridge, new models by 2002, including a small Metro replacement and a coupe version of the 75, and an engine deal with BMW.

The consortium has called on dealers in the UK and abroad to show commitment to Rover by investing in a stakeholder plan, which will help finance the proposals.

John Mantle, Rover franchise board member, said: “As I understand it, the plan is for dealers to subscribe to about 25% of the equity of the business,” he said. “The aim is for new Rover to be owned and subscribed to by dealers, the workforce and suppliers.”

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