Officials from Amicus and the Transport and General Workers’ Union (T&G) announced the move as hundreds of workers and Jaguar supporters prepared to stage a protest march through the centre of Coventry last weekend.
Results of the ballot will be known by mid-December. How-ever Jaguar management was due to meet with union representatives today (December 3) to discuss a number of issues concerning the closure of Browns Lane.
The prestige car manufacturer, which is part of Ford’s Premier Auto Group, has urged union members not to strike, stressing that it “will not be in the interests of Jaguar, its employees or customers”. Its statement added: “Strike action will only make recovery more difficult.”
It is likely that Jaguar’s dealers would be affected, through delayed production and delivery of new cars, plus an impact on customer confidence.
Derek Simpson, general secretary of Amicus, says: “The next two weeks are critical in our fight against the closure of Browns Lane.”
He believes the ballot will send a clear message to Ford executives that everything will be done to resist the closure. His views are echoed by T&G general secretary Tony Woodley. He accuses Ford of “acting outrageously”, and of failing to see the wider implications.
“We call on not just Jaguar workers but also the wider community of Coventry and the West Midlands to stand together and fight this unjust closure,” says Woodley.
Last month, Jaguar’s chief executive Joe Greenwell was summoned before the Trade and Industry Select Committee to explain reasons behind the closure. He praised the Browns Lane workforce as “exemplary”, stating the decision was no reflection on their performance, but admitted Jaguar may have been “over-optimistic” on its sales targets.
“The difficulty is of our position is such that unless we follow this path, the future viability of the company is at risk, as are the jobs of 8,000 people,” Greenwell told MPs. “The right way forward is to concentrate on Castle Bromwich.” Assembly of the XJ saloon and XK coupe will transfer to that site following the Coventry closure.