‘We have made it clear that yesterday’s announcement was a good start but it will not in itself be quick enough to offset potentially tens of thousands of job losses,’ said Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley yesterday.
He was speaking to reporters after yesterday’s tripartite meeting on the government’s car industry rescue package.
Car industry bosses and union leaders had been invited to the meeting at Business Secretary Mandelson’s department, where he sought to assure them that his £2.3bn rescue package, announced on Tuesday, would work.
Emerging from the meeting, Woodley added: ‘We’ve asked the government to look at immediate financial support for short time working, that we can do something along those lines to maintain the skills. That’s the best way forward.
‘But speedy access to credit, speedy access for our finance arm so that we can encourage more persons to buy.
‘These are the big issues now. We need an immediate cash injection. The message is “well done – but there is much more to do”.’
Fellow Unite joint general secretary Derek Simpson said: ‘The government’s assistance package is a good beginning. We now need to build on this.
‘More has to be done to throw a credit lifeline to manufacturers throughout the car and components sector, and we need the sort of confidence-building measures that will stimulate demand for cars among the public.
‘If no-one is buying cars, it makes it very difficult for a rescue package to work.’
He added: ‘We can’t afford to let this sector go.
‘We have to move to reassure, not just the car companies, the manufacturers themselves, but the thousands and thousands of people who are at the moment living in a degree of uncertainty and expecting the worst – suffering short time, plant layoffs, delays in production – all sorts of measure to try and survive.’
Car bosses’ spokesman, Paul Everitt, head of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said the meeting had been ‘serious and constructive’.
He added: ‘As an industry we emphasised the lack of specific proposals to stimulate demand in the market and ease consumer credit.’
Meanwhile, with several plants on extended shutdowns, including Honda, Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin became the latest manufacturer to cut production, beginning a three-day week at its Gaydon plant in Warwickshire.
The luxury sports car maker said it had consulted with the union on the new Monday to Wednesday shift pattern, that it is temporary and affects just under 600 staff.
The firm announced 600 redundancies in December.
Three hundred workers have already left and the company is in the final stages of consultation over the remaining 300, which will leave just 1,250 employed at Gaydon.
Also yesterday, Toyota warned it was considering completely suspending production at its UK plants in a bid to reduce costs.
The firm, which employs 3,900 in Derbyshire and 600 in Flintshire, has already suspended night shifts and is planning two 14-day shutdowns.