'New era' as Jaguar creates thousands of jobs
Car giant Jaguar Land Rover is to invest billions of pounds in its business, creating thousands of new jobs and safeguarding its UK factories, it was announced today.
The new jobs will include 1,500 at the Halewood plant on Merseyside next year, while the other two manufacturing sites at Castle Bromwich and Solihull in the West Midlands will be retained, ending fears for their future.
The company said it had ambitious plans for new models and volume growth and announced a "landmark" pay and conditions deal with trade unions.
The agreement, which trade unions will recommend to their members, includes a two-year pay deal worth 5% from next month, with a further rise of at least 3% from November next year.
Jaguar Land Rover said it will retain three plants in the UK, leading to the creation of thousands of new jobs in Britain over the next decade and billions of pounds-worth of investment.
The number of models in its range will be "significantly increased".
Jaguar Land Rover chief executive Ralf Speth said: "This is a triumph for all concerned. We have ambitious plans for growth and the success of our products around the world and this agreement will allow us to accelerate and realise those plans.
"The agreement is a great deal for our workers and the company and we can now really get on with working together to achieve an even more exciting future for the Jaguar and Land Rover brands.
"We have already started by beginning to hire 1,500 new employees to support the launch of the new Range Rover Evoque at our award-winning Halewood factory in Liverpool.
"Our parent company Tata supported us through the recession and our employees also made sacrifices but now we are seeing a great turnaround in the business and everyone involved - our employees, our customers and our Tata shareholders - will benefit from this agreement. This is truly the beginning of a new era for Jaguar Land Rover."
New staff in the manufacturing plants will start on lower rates of pay and receive lower shift premiums, increasing flexibility, the company added.
Unite said it was "fantastic news" for the company and its workers.
Jack Dromey, Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington, which covers the Castle Bromwich plant, said it was "good news in bleak times", adding: "Castle Bromwich built the Spitfire during the war and two generations of the Jaguar.
"This remarkable agreement will see £5 billion of investment, securing the future of the three great plants in Britain. It is a triumph for the workforce, Unite and the company."
Len McCluskey, assistant general secretary of Unite, said he hoped up to 4,000 new jobs will be created under today's announcement.
"It is a tribute to our shop stewards and members who made sacrifices last year in difficult circumstances. The future of the three plants has been secured until at least 2020, which is fabulous news, as there had been fears that one of them would close.
"Our members demonstrated their commitment to their workplace and their industry when they sacrificed a pay deal last year, bringing Jaguar through some of the toughest times in its history."
Richard Burden, Labour MP for Birmingham Northfield and chairman of the all-party motor group in Parliament, said: "JLR (Jaguar Land Rover)is one of the central foundations of the motor industry in the West Midlands. The company plays a key role in maintaining the skill base right across the Midlands, not only in JLR plants, but also in the wider supply and component industries.
"With both plants secure, investment and new jobs over the next decade and the potential of exciting new models, this is good news for manufacturing and good news for the West Midlands.
"I also appeal to the Government, as they make their decisions in the weeks and months ahead, to think about the impact their actions will have on manufacturing and to remember its importance to the West Midlands and the economy as a whole."
Derek Simpson, joint leader of Unite, said: "This agreement between JLR and Unite is testimony to what a company can achieve when it works with its workforce and their union.
"Our members took some tough decisions and made sacrifices but they convinced their employer to invest in a shared future in return.
"The rest of UK manufacturing should take note. Reward your workforce's loyalty, build on the excellence and skills of UK workers, and your business will thrive."
Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "This is a great example of cooperation between Jaguar Land Rover, the company's workforce and the trade union. As a result of this responsible negotiation, manufacturing in Castle Bromwich, Solihull and Halewood is secure. This decision will drive growth in Britain and bring extra jobs to the West Midlands and Merseyside.
"This news of £5 billion investment in British manufacturing stands in stark contrast to how the Tory-led coalition Government are approaching the current economic situation by putting the fragile recovery at risk and undermining economic growth."
Shadow business secretary John Denham said: "It is great news that Jaguar Land Rover, a truly global automotive company, has chosen Britain's manufacturing sector as its long-term base. This news is a testament to the company's workforce, which for generations has developed a world-class reputation for British manufacturing."
A Business Department spokesman said: "The Government welcomes the news that JLR has reached agreement with the trade unions.
"JLR make iconic British cars in the UK and export them all over the world. We have an unparalleled number of premium and niche manufacturers in the UK who are critical to UK employment, and JLR and all its workers are a vital and very significant part of this group."