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8,000 Land Rover jobs threatened

Land Rover owner Ford has told 8,000 workers at its Solihull plant to come up with a plan to improve productivity within two months or lose their jobs.

According to the Birmingham Post and Evening Mail newspaper, Mark Fields, president of Premier Automotive Group (PAG), delivered the ultimatum to management and unions at the Lode Lane factory.

According to the paper the announcement was similar to BMW's dramatic announcement six years ago when it warned Rover's Longbridge plant was at risk of closure, triggering a crisis that ended with BMW ditching its Rover operations.

The Birmingham Post and Evening Mail reported that Matthew Taylor, Land Rover managing director, who was in the meeting with Fields, said there had been a "very frank but extremely positive set of discussions between management and unions" and added that both sides had been told that it was "crunch time for Solihull".

He reportedly added that the company was in one of the fastest growing markets in the car industry with sports utility vehicles set to rise by 40% over the next five years but warned that Solihull would have to take significant measures to bring its competitiveness and quality up to world standards.

Asked what would happen if the work force was unable to agree the way forward in the next two months, Taylor told the newspaper: "Nobody is contemplating such a scenario. If we are unable to produce a plant that has world class standards, investment decisions will be made on where we are and inevitably it will mean the steady decline of investment coming into the plant and put pressure on long term viability."

Dave Osbourne, senior TGWU national negotiator, told the Birmingham Post and Evening Mail: "It is wrong to say all of this has to be done in eight weeks. We are talking about a road-map for on-going discussions with the objective of reaching best-in-class levels in five years."

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