70,000 Car Jobs Threatened Says Unite’s Woodley

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THE Unite trade union has renewed its call on the government to bail out UK car industry bosses, warning that 70,000 car jobs are under threat.

Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley warned earlier this week: ‘2009 is going to be a difficult year. We start it heading into what may prove to be the deepest recession any of us have seen.’

He stressed: ‘Car workers and their families should not have to pay the price for the economic storm.’

Blaming the ‘greedy bankers’, he added: ‘The case for helping the British car industry is straight-forward. It is by-and-large profitable with a strong product and faces no problems of the scale it does in the USA.

‘Our industry is on the ropes because of market collapse, particularly for the sort of high-value vehicles produced by Jaguar and Land Rover.

‘That demand will recover when the world economy starts to move forward once more. And when it does, Britain needs to have its iconic brands in place to respond.

‘That means keeping factories open and our skilled workforce in employment.

‘Anything else means that the demand will be met from other countries and at least 70,000 manufacturing jobs will be gone for good.’

He urged: ‘So now is the moment for Gordon Brown to be bold and give our car industry the sort of backing already offered to the financial services and construction sectors, backing it would never get from do-nothing free-market Tories.

‘One lesson of this crisis is that Britain needs a strong manufacturing sector. Over-reliance on finance has got us into this mess, let’s give the car industry the chance to help us get out of it.’

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures out yesterday showed that the number of new cars sold in the UK in 2008 fell by 11.3 per cent from 2007 to 2,131,795, the lowest since 1996, following eight consecutive monthly falls.

Sales fell 21.2 per cent in December, compared with December 2007, to 108,691 vehicles. In November, sales fell by 36.8 per cent, the biggest drop since 1980.

l Toyota is to halt production at all twelve of its Japanese factories for eleven days in February and March as it tries to reduce its stock of unsold cars, following a three-day shut-down for January. Before that it had not cut production since 1993.

Toyota sales in the US fell 37 per cent in December, a bigger decline than either GM or Ford.