Jaguar Land Rover has confirmed it wants to cut 4,500 jobs in a bid to save £2.5bn.
The company announced this lunchtime that it wanted to cut its global workforce still further after 1,500 people left the business last year.
The cuts will start with a voluntary redundancy programme in the UK.
But the ECHO understands production line jobs should not be cut as a result of today’s announcement, which will affect people in managerial and support roles.
We’ll bring you the latest JLR’s announcements here on this blog.
The company has not yet revealed how the cuts will affect its Halewood plant, which builds the successful Range Rover Evoque.
JLR employs some 4,000 people directly at Halewood, and 2,000 staff also work there.
JLR has invested heavily in Halewood in recent years to get it ready for the new Evoque, launched last year.
The company said last year that its investment would ensure Halewood had a long-term future.
Here’s tonight’s report on what’s happening at JLR
Here’s tonight’s latest update on what’s happening at Jaguar Land Rover and at its Halewood plant.
Thanks for following our coverage today.
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram meets Halewood management
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, has today visited Halewood to talk to Jaguar Land Rover bosses about today’s announcements – and has warned of the dangers of a no-deal Brexit.
This morning, along with Graham Morgan, the Leader of Knowsley Council, I visited Jaguar Land Rover to be updated about the current situation at first hand.
Clearly this is a very disappointing situation and worrying for everyone concerned. In spite of the fundamental strengths of the Halewood plant, there are a number of strategic economic reasons for the company’s current challenges, ranging from a slump in diesel sales, to the US-China trade war, and ongoing uncertainty around Brexit.
Locally, there are obviously limits to what the Combined Authority can do to tackle those issues but we have offered our full assistance and we will do all we can to support the company and its workers at this difficult time.
What this latest news very clearly underlines is the absolute, over-riding importance of avoiding a no-deal Brexit and the economic catastrophe it would unleash on our country.
Knowsley council’s ‘great concern’ over JLR news
We’re also getting political reaction to today’s news.
Councillor Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council, said:
Naturally the news coming out of Jaguar Land Rover is of great concern to me and everyone involved.
Jaguar Land Rover is a major employer here in Knowsley and plays an important role in our economy – not just in terms of employing local people but also the positive impact it has on the local supply chain in Knowsley and the wider city region.
The company has invested £750m its Halewood facility in recent years and its impact on our borough and the region as a whole cannot be underestimated.
Along with Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, I have today met with management at the Halewood plant and offered our commitment to work with them and support them in any way we can during the coming months.
JLR CEO: Halewood ‘very good plant’ but could yet see some cuts
Now the ECHO asks JLR chief executive Dr Ralf Speth directly about Halewood.
He said: “Halewood is a very good plant”. “We have restructured it totally.
“We have delivered a high quality product.”
He praised the new Range Rover Evoque, launched last year, and said he was confident the new Evoque would be a “huge success globally”. And he says that if the Evoque is a success then he does not see any “long-term” issues for Halewood.
Asked directly by the ECHO if there would be any job cuts on Halewood, Dr Speth said the management structure of the company and therefore the site “will be checked” and that will determine whether we will see any “results” at Halewood.
Remember he said earlier that “all locations will see reductions” as a result of this. But we have also been told that the production line jobs will not be affected directly by those announcement, and most Halewood jobs are on those lines.
Has Slovakia plant made a difference?
Now JLR CEO Dr Ralf Speth is asked if UK workers should be disappointed that the company has invested in plants overseas, eg Slovakia. He says logistically JLR has had to make those investments over recent years.
Asked again about Brexit and China, JLR says China is a “huge issue”. But he says there is an opportunity for the company to grow thanks to electric vehicles.
All UK JLR sites will be affected by these cuts, CEO says
Asked about which sites could be affected, Dr Ralf Speth tells the media that “all locations will see reductions” across JLR.
He says the effects will mainly be felt in “management and leadership” roles and will be around the UK.
He added that he could not say today exactly at which locations people were at risk.
Asked if there will be temporary shutdowns at JLR plants in April after Brexit, as other manufacturers are planning, he said: “I don’t know”. It depends on what happens with Brexit – eg will it be postponed.
Questions now for JLR boss Ralf Speth
Prof Dr Ralf Speth is asked whether there will be production line cuts in the future – he says he cannot answer that yet as that depends on ongoing sales.
He’s asked about the future of saloons – says again no decisions made as yet.
Asked if the brunt of job losses will be felt in the UK, Ralf Speth confirmed it – more than 90% of JLR staff work in the UK, he says, so the majority of cuts will be in the UK.
Now he’s asked if JLR has grown too quickly. “Not at all,” he responds.
JLR boss: “Challenging yet exciting” time to come
The JLR CEO is also talking about electric vehicles and the company’s investment in electric vehicles.
He says today’s measures are “tough but necessary efficiency measures” to secure the company’s future amid the technological revolution.
He says there’s a “challenging yet exciting” time to come.
And he says we at JLR are the “captains of our destiny”, referring to the poem Invictus.
‘Losing people is not an easy step to take’
The JLR CEO says JLR workers will support workers “during what we recognise is an unsettling period”.
Prof Dr Ralf Speth said: “Losing people is not an easy step to take but we act now responsively and decisively in response to the challenging market conditions”.
He says JLR is the custodian of two iconic British brands that must be protected.
And says the new Halewood-built Evoque will start being shipped to customers within days.
JLR boss confirms production line staff NOT being cut by this restructure
Dr Ralf Speth says JLR as a niche player in the car industry is affected quickly by these economic changes.
And he says the company is a “finely tuned early warning seismograph”, warning the world of future economic problems.
He says there’s a clear commitment to keeping going apprenticeship programmes at JLR
And he says that production line colleagues are excluded from these cuts as their workloads are already determined by supply and demand.
JLR chief executive now addressing the media
Prof Dr Ralf Speth is now on a conference call with the media to give more details of today’s announcement.
He starts by telling us that he is “personally committed” to growing the business in the UK.
And he says he wants to “lay the foundation for long-term, sustainable and profitable growth”.
He lists challenges affecting the industry, including Brexit and Chinese sales – he lists them in alphabetical order.
Labour calls for urgent action to protect car industry
Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, said earlier:
This is more concerning news for workers across Jaguar Land Rover today who have suffered months of uncertainty not least as a result of the Government’s Brexit chaos.
We await details of Jaguar Land Rover’s plans but urge the Government to look at the business case for these proposed redundancies when they are announced and to work closely with Jaguar Land Rover and the trade unions to ensure that all UK redundancies are purely on a voluntary basis.
The Government needs to realise that the automotive sector from factory floor and right across supply chains desperately needs tangible support not warm words.
Business Secretary says it’s a ‘worrying time’ for JLR staff
Business Secretary Greg Clark has just said:
Jaguar Land Rover have today confirmed plans to offer voluntary redundancy packages to their UK workforce as they reduce their global headcount. This is a commercial decision for the company but nevertheless it will clearly be a worrying time for Jaguar Land Rover employees and their families.
Jaguar Land Rover is a much valued British company with a talented and dedicated workforce. The Government has, and will work continue, to work closely with the business to ensure that it can succeed long into the future as it invests and transitions to autonomous, connected and electric vehicles.
On Monday, Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority, and I will convene a Jaguar Land Rover Development Partnership meeting bringing together Jaguar Land Rover leadership, local MPs and representatives from the Midlands and the North West, supply chain, trade body and trades union representatives.
Jaguar Land Rover and its owners have made clear they remain firmly committed to the UK, continuing to invest billions and employing tens of thousands of people. This includes today’s announcement of investment in next generation electric drive units to be produced in Wolverhampton and a new battery assembly centre in Hams Hall, building on last year’s investment in their key plants in Solihull and Halewood to build the next-generation of Land Rover models, including electric vehicles.
The UK is a world-leader in automotive manufacturing. Through our modern Industrial Strategy, we are building on those world beating strengths and investing in the future to put the UK at the forefront of the next generation of electric and autonomous vehicles.
Have ‘dark days’ only just begun for JLR and Halewood?
Tony Bradley of Liverpool Hope University Business School has also warned that the economy is in a fragile state – and that could be bad news in the long term for JLR workers.
Speaking about JLR’s issues with China sales, diesel cars and Brexit, he said: “What this opens up is the media-managed opportunity to move production to lower cost Asian facilities; to streamline their management tiers in the UK, which had become bloated during the good times; and avoid the needs of dealing with some of the harder Brexit issues.
“What, perhaps, also, needs to be taken into account is the news from the TUC and BofE on Monday that the debt-savings ratio is at an all-time negative point. In others words, the next crash is just over the horizon.
“In that context deciding to move “off-shore” may not be exactly happy days – but it isn’t the worst set of decisions for JLR management to have needed to make – unless, of course, you’re one of the Halewood workers.
“For them, I fear, the dark days have only just begun.”
JLR said last year that the future of the Halewood plant had been secured by the decision to build the new Evooque there. The company has invested millions of pounds in the plant in recent years.
‘Disastrous’ series of problems has hit Jaguar Land Rover
Tony Bradley, a lecturer in Social Economy at the Liverpool Hope University Business School, says JLR has been hit by a series of problems but will have been planning today’s cuts for some time. He said:
“There is, certainly, a disastrous conflagration of problems to hit JLR – the Chinese slowdown, the confusion over whether or not to buy diesel and potential tariff, border frictions and supply chain disruptions following Brexit.
“I don’t think it is cynical to argue that JLR have done a very good job, in terms of corporate comms, in media management over the past few months. Decisions such as this are not taken overnight. This will have been part and parcel of their scenario planning for many months.
“The Chinese slowdown began towards the end of 2015, but has deepened considerably over the past year, even on official figures, which may be over-stated by as much as 3% points.”
Mr Bradley said the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal had helped turn people against diesel cars and that JLR was still working out how to cope with that change.
JLR CEO Dr Ralf Speth warned last year that Brexit uncertainty was affecting JLR. Mr Bradley said: “we’ve had two years of virtual Brexit Groundhog Day, after the first six months of recovering from the shock of the vote, in June 2016.”
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram on today’s news
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said:
Very worrying news. I will be meeting with management and the workforce at Halewood later today to discuss how this will impact them and what we can do to protect local jobs.
Fire alarm meant staff were outside plant this morning
The fire alarm at JLR today – see below – affected workers across the whole site.
As news began to break that there would be a jobs announcement today, workers were pictured gathering outside the factory. But that turned out to be nothing to do with the restructuring news – it was simply because the whole factory needed to be evacuated for safety reasons so the small forklift truck fire could be dealt with.
It was cleared up within minutes and staff soon went back to work.
Union blames ‘botched handling of Brexit’ for today’s news
Union Unite has now spoken out on today’s news, vowing to protect jobs and saying the Government has not done enough to help Britain’s car industry.
National officer Des Quinn said: “Unite will be scrutinising the business case for these global job cuts, and Unite expects that any UK redundancies will be on a voluntary basis amongst affected employees.
“Jaguar Land Rover workers have had to endure a great deal of uncertainty over recent months as they continue to work hard to ensure the carmaker remains a global leader.
“With record levels of new investment and models set to come on stream in its UK factories we look for Jaguar Land Rover to continue to be a global success and the jewel in Britain’s manufacturing crown.
“But the UK government must play its part too. Britain’s car workers have been caught in the crosshairs of the government’s botched handling of Brexit, mounting economic uncertainty and ministers’ demonisation of diesel, which along with the threat of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, is damaging consumer confidence. “Government ministers need to wake up and start doing more to support UK’s car workers and their colleagues in the supply chain if Jaguar Land Rover’s recent success is to continue.”
Fire ‘was out within minutes’
The ECHO’s Breaking News Editor Ben Turner reports:
Earlier today firefighters were called to deal with a fire at the Halewood site.
Three engines were sent shortly after 8.30am over a fire involving a battery powered forklift truck.
A Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service spokesman confirmed the fire was out within eight minutes and crews left less than an hour after arriving following ventilation of the building.
The fire is not being treated as suspicious.
Fire at JLR Halewood saw plant evacuated
It’s been a busy day all round at Halewood as the plant had to be evacuated briefly earlier due to a small fire.
A forklift truck caught fire and the workforce was evacuated as the fire service dealt quickly with the incident, seen in this picture sent to the ECHO.
The fire was out within minutes and staff soon returned to work.
Investment in Halewood in recent months
JLR last year confirmed Halewood would build the new Evoque – the successor to the original Range Rover that proved a huge hit around the world.
That news confirmed the long-term future of the Halewood site, which was first opened by Ford in the 1960s and remains one of our biggest employers.
‘White collar’ jobs likely to be affected
Most jobs at Halewood are on the production lines. The ECHO currently understands production line jobs are not directly affected by this announcement as decisions on those jobs are taken in response to consumer supply and demand.
But we are still waiting to hear exactly what will happen at the plant – we’ll keep you updated here.
Changes needed for ‘long term growth’, boss says
Chief executive Dr Ralf Speth added:
“We are taking decisive action to help deliver long-term growth, in the face of multiple geopolitical and regulatory disruptions as well as technology challenges facing the automotive industry.”
JLR boss says next chapter will be ‘most exciting in our history’
JLR chief executive Dr Ralf Speth said: “The ‘Charge and Accelerate’ programme combines efficiency measures with targeted investment, safeguarding our future and ensuring that we maximise the opportunities created by growing demand for Autonomous, Connected, Electric and Shared technologies.”
“The next chapter in the story of the Jaguar and Land Rover brands will be the most exciting – and challenging – in our history. Revealing the iconic Defender, investing in cleaner, smarter, more desirable cars and electrifying our facilities to manufacture a future range of British-built electric vehicles will all form part of building a globally competitive and flourishing company.”
JLR boss says ‘decisive action’ needed to protect company
This lunchtime, JLR revealed the latest update in the company’s “Charge and Accelerate” restructuring.
The company wants to save £2.5bn in “cost reductions and cashflow improvements”. It also said it was to invest more in electric vehicle technology, including creating a new battery centre in the West Midlands. JLR said it wanted to create a “leaner, more resilient organisation”.
JLR chief executive Dr Ralf Speth said: “We are taking decisive action to help deliver long-term growth, in the face of multiple geopolitical and regulatory disruptions as well as technology challenges facing the automotive industry.”
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