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Brown acts on Jaguar jobs

Gordon Brown is targeting Ford president Sir Nick Scheele in his attempt to force the US carmaker to reconsider major cutbacks at its Browns Lane factory in Coventry this weekend.

At a private meeting between Brown and leaders of the Transport & General Workers Union, Amicus and the GMB in Brighton during last week's Labour Party conference, the Chancellor said he would contact Scheele, on his visit to the US for the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund this weekend.

Ford announced last month 400 redundancies at the Brown's Lane factory, which makes two Jaguar models, along with the transfer of another 425 jobs to the nearby Castle Bromwich factory and further cuts to staff.

Brown, like Tony Blair, is particularly concerned that Ford made its decision to cut back at Browns Lane without consulting the unions, and that it has broken an agreement to maintain production facilities in the West Midlands.

Unions are concerned that the cuts will be followed by the amalgamation of the company's Whitley research and development operations with Land Rover's at Gaydon as a preparatory move to a full merger of the two businesses, with many more job losses.

They are preparing a case against the cutbacks. They are arguing for an independent analyst to gain access to Jaguar's books and for executives to examine whether the fall-off in sales - critical US figures slumped 38% in August, compared with 2003 - justifies the cutbacks.

The TGWU, along with Amicus, is continuing with preparations for a strike ballot at Brown's Lane, with the possibility of further votes at other plants.

(Source: The Observer)

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