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Rediff.com  » Business » Strike hits production at JLR car plants in UK

Strike hits production at JLR car plants in UK

August 28, 2013 18:31 IST

Production at Tata Motors-owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) car plants in Britain was hit on Wednesday due to industrial action by supply chain workers over a pay dispute.

Workers from the union Unite had voted in favour of 30-minute walkouts at the start of each shift.

JLR said it is working to ensure that any disruption to production at the luxury car manufacturing units is "minimised".

"Jaguar Land Rover is disappointed that DHL Unite members have decided to take industrial action today (on Wednesday). Jaguar Land Rover continues to urge Unite and DHL to resolve this dispute as soon as possible," a JLR spokesperson said.

The planned industrial action is over a pay dispute by around 3,500 workers across four parts suppliers, including DHL, NAC, Staffline and Milestones, which would disrupt deliveries to Land Rover and Jaguar at a time of record sales.

The factories affected include Land Rover in Solihull and Jaguar in Castle Bromwich in the West Midlands and Halewood in Liverpool.

"Negotiations are ongoing and Unite hopes to reach an agreed resolution," a Unite spokesperson said.

The Jaguar Land Rover company was established in 2008 when Ratan Tata-led Tata Motors acquired the Jaguar and Land Rover businesses from US' Ford.

DHL has already accused Unite of engineering the pay dispute, saying there was no overall majority for the strike.

"We are disappointed that Unite has decided to take industrial action in response to our generous offer. Our warehouse operatives and drivers already enjoy very attractive rates of pay and shift allowances," a DHL statement said.

The German logistics giant believes only 32 per cent of the workforce have voted for action.

The action comes against the backdrop of reports that JLR could be set for a major expansion of its UK production operations and is searching for a sizeable plot of land on which to site a new depot or manufacturing facility.

The company's ongoing expansion in the UK is underlined by its development of a new 500-million-pound engine factory on the i54 site near Wolverhampton.

Tata Motors has been urging DHL and Unite to try and reach a resolution as quickly as possible but also has contingencies in place to cope with any further stoppages.

Meanwhile, a new DHL circular to workers said the walkout was "likely to prove disruptive and is not necessary."

It reads: "We are urging all of our colleagues to come to work on time and to work normally. To support business planning, it is important that DHL is aware of who will be working normally and who will take industrial action."

"If you do not return the slip, we will take it that you will be taking part in the strike and industrial action. Failure to show for work on time and to work normally having indicated that you will, is likely to be treated as a deliberate act to disrupt business planning, which will be investigated as a serious disciplinary offence," it said.

Aditi Khanna in London
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