|Volume 48 Number 19, June 23, 2018||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is to end production of its prestigious Discovery off-roader at the Solihull plant and move the work to its giant new factory in Slovakia.
The move is likely to result in owners Tata, Britain's biggest car-maker, cutting non-contractual agency staff at the plant near Birmingham. It is due to take effect from early next year as the site at Nitra, western Slovakia, comes on line.
There is much speculation as to why the move is taking place. The decision to move rests solely with the owners of the company, despite the fact that for many years, the workers have built the company, many of whom have worked there for years, even before Rover passed from state-owned British Leyland and eventually amalgamated with Jaguar. There is no requirement for authorisation; the Tata monopoly is free to do as it wishes.
The Solihull plant also has production lines turning out the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Velar models, as well as the Jaguar F-Pace. What is there to prevent unpopular decisions about winding down or even wrecking production?
The redundancies are first to occur with agency workers, but experience shows that cutting permanent staff usually follows. The company said that at first it was axing 1,000 of the 1,800 agency staff In April, blaming Brexit and pollution taxes over diesel cars.
Other car manufacturers like Nissan and BMW have also made similar threats to move production in recent years, hoping to gain concessions and financial support from the government, effectively holding the economy to ransom.
The decision to relocate the Discovery casts doubt over remaining business contract roles at Solihull. The company has said that from 2020, all new cars in its range will come with an electric drive train option, raising the prospect of further investment in battery technology. Even so, JLR's only fully electric car, the Jaguar I-Pace, is currently built by contract manufacturer Magna Steyr in Austria.
Tata also confirmed that it will build the new version of the "baby" Range Rover, the Evoque, at the company's Halewood plant on Merseyside. The Evoque is also built at JLR's plants in Brazil, China and India. However, in January, Halewood already moved from three production shifts per day to two.
Totally marginalised from having any say are the actual producers, the working people, who are struggling to realise their pro-social aim which is able to provide the necessary coherence to the economy. Against the arbitrary decision-making of the monopolies such as Tata, there must be public authority consistent with the needs of the times that is able to prevent this wrecking activity.