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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 April, 2005, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
Rover suppliers 'lay off workers'
Workers at MG Rover's Longbridge plant
MG Rover staff have been told to report for work on Monday
Companies supplying crisis-hit UK car maker MG Rover have started laying off workers, according to reports.

Suppliers in South Wales and the Midlands are understood to have laid off hundreds of their employees.

Birmingham-based MG Rover was put into administration, on Friday, after rescue talks with a Chinese company collapsed.

MG Rover workers have been told to report for work on Monday, when they will hear from administrators if there are to be any immediate lay offs.

Production at MG Rover's Longbridge plant ground to a halt, on Thursday, after suppliers stopped sending components because of money owed to them.

Task force

The crisis at MG Rover has already started to have an impact on jobs in Wales, where supplier TRW Automotive said on Saturday that it was temporarily laying off 42 staff at its plant at Resolven, in the Neath Valley.

We are in a position to act swiftly and positively to deal with the challenges facing us
Nick Paul, MG Rover Task Force

Efforts to retain some form of production at Longbridge were continuing as administrators from PricewaterhouseCoopers study the details of MG Rover's books.

Rescue talks with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC) failed, on Thursday, throwing the entire future of Britain's last volume car maker into doubt.

MG Rover employs about 6,000 workers, but an additional 15,000-20,000 jobs are also supported by business from the firm.

A task force set up to advise on how best to allocate emergency support for MG Rover's suppliers, as well as for Longbridge workers and the local community, confirmed it would meet for the first time on Monday.

The MG Rover Task Force, led by Nick Paul, chairman of the regional development agency Advantage West Midlands, will comprise of 23 key organisations and individual experts from the public and private sector.

'Too slow'

"We are in a position to act swiftly and positively to deal with the challenges facing us," said Mr Paul.

Rover car leaving Longbridge on Thursday
The collapse of talks with SAIC put MG Rover's future in doubt

The government has already announced a 40m support package for suppliers to the industry.

Earlier, Conservative leader Michael Howard said the prime minister and chancellor must share some of the blame for the crisis facing MG Rover.

He told GMTV that Labour had acted too slowly, while Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy told the BBC they had waited for the "59th minute of the 11th hour".

The government said it would do all it could to support the firm and suppliers, while Chancellor Gordon Brown has announced an inquiry into the crisis.

He indicated claims the Phoenix consortium - which bought the company for 10 when BMW pulled out in 2000 - made millions from the car maker might be part of the inquiry.

There are no claims of illegal practices, but trade unions complained in 2003 about a 12.6m pension fund set up for executives.

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