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Jaguar Land Rover cuts 500 jobs in 'further blow' to UK car industry

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
JLR announced cuts in Halewood. Photo: Dave Thompson/PA via Getty Images

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has announced plans to cut around 500 jobs at a factory in north-west England.

The car giant announced plans to shake up shift patterns at its Halewood plant just outside Liverpool, with employees set to be offered voluntary redundancy.

The company, owned by India’s Tata Motors (TTM), said the changes would affect around 10% of the total workforce, which includes just under 4,000 employees and hundreds of agency staff.

It is the latest in a line of carmakers to slash jobs in a hugely challenging period for the industry worldwide, hurt by a slowdown in demand, tougher emission standards and tariff tensions.

JLR said the changes to working patterns would cut costs through “operating efficiencies” while meeting growing demand for its new Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport.

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But the Unite union called it a “further blow” to the industry, and said it believed slower-than-forecast demand for the models produced at Halewood was behind the redundancies.

A company spokeswoman told Yahoo Finance UK: “Through its ongoing transformation programme, Jaguar Land Rover is taking action to optimise performance, enable sustainable growth and safeguard the long-term success of our business.

“Jaguar Land Rover Halewood employees have the opportunity to leave through an enhanced voluntary redundancy programme.”

Staff will move from a three-shift pattern to a “two-plus” pattern from April, the company said without giving further details.

READ MORE: Carmakers grapple with a year of heavy job losses in 2019

The firm said it was agreed as part of pay negotiations last year, and would not lead to a loss of production volume. Unite accepted the shift patterns would deliver “flexible efficiencies that longer-term should benefit both employees and the company.”

But Unite’s national officer Des Quinn said: “This is a further blow to the UK car industry in general and to our members at Halewood in particular.

“Unite will be ensuring that the commitment to limit job losses to voluntary redundancies is fully honoured.”

He added that JLR faced similar challenges to other carmakers, and blamed government inaction for cars no longer being the “jewel in the crown” of UK manufacturing.

Car giant JLR is cutting jobs at its Halewood plant in Merseyside. Photo: PA

“Until the government ensures that there is long-term frictionless trade and no tariffs with the European Union, along with meaningful investment in the infrastructure to ensure the success of electric vehicles, the UK’s car industry will continue to experience severe challenges,” said Quinn.

But a government spokesperson said: “The decision to offer voluntary redundancy to a small number of employees at Halewood is a commercial one by Jaguar Land Rover.

“Jaguar Land Rover is a much-valued British company with a talented and dedicated workforce, and it continues to invest billions while employing tens of thousands of people.”

JLR had already warned last year it would cut 4,500 jobs worldwide, with the majority expected in the UK. But it also announced in July it would invest hundreds of millions of pounds in electric vehicle production at its Castle Bromwich plant in Birmingham.