Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) will make 500 job cuts at its Evoque and Discovery Sport SUV-producing Halewood manufacturing plant on Merseyside.
In what Unite the union described as “a further blow to the UK car industry” the premium carmaker will cut jobs as part of a move from a a three-shift system to a two-plus shift system, in April, in an effort to deliver flexibility efficiencies and enable sustainable growth.
The move is part of its Project Charge programme which, it claimed, had achieved a total of £1.7 billion of a £2.5bn operational savings as it reported losses in August last year – seven months after the announcement of 4,500 job cuts across the business.
Quoted in the Liverpool Echo newspaper, a JLR spokeswoman claimed that the decision to restructure shift patterns at the Halewood plant would deliver “significant operating efficiencies at the plant, while enabling us to meet the growing customer demand for our new Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport”.
The manufacturing plant currently employs 4,000 people with around 500 agency staff.
Unite said that the proposed job losses would comprise a mixture of permanent employees and agency staff and accounts for over 10% of the plant’s workforce.
The union has negotiated that the loss of the permanent employees will be through an enhanced voluntary redundancy scheme.
Unite national officer, Des Quinn, said: “This is a further blow to the UK car industry in general and to our members at Halewood in particular.
“Unite will be ensuring that the commitment to limit job losses to voluntary redundancies is fully honoured.
“The challenges being faced at JLR are also being experienced by other UK car factories.
“The UK’s car industry has plummeted from being the jewel in the crown of the UK’s manufacturing sector in a few short years, directly as a result of government inaction.
“Until the government ensures that there is long-term frictionless trade and no tariffs with the European Union along with meaningful investment in the infrastructure to ensure the success of electric vehicles, the UK’s car industry will continue to experience severe challenges.”
In July last year JLR announced its plan to spend close to £1bn installing electric tooling in its Castle Bromwich factory to build three new electrified models, the first of which will be the next generation all-electric Jaguar XJ EV.
JLR said that its free cash flow was negative £719 million after £795 million of investment spending in the quarter, but added that this represented a £954 million improvement year-on-year.
The UK Government has announced that it would underwrite JLR’s EV programme spending to the tune of £500 million as part of a £625 million loan facility expected to be completed in the coming months and amortize over five years.
Global sales fell by 5.9% for the OEM in 2019 as 557,706 vehicles were sold worldwide.
Overall sales were hit particularly hard by a 13.5% decline in registrations in China.
In the UK Jaguar sales declined 2.6% to 36,069 (2018: 37,019) as Land Rover declined 1.7% from 77,906 in 2018 to 76,546.