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Sunday, 19 March, 2000, 11:43 GMT
Drivers urged to buy British
BMW 'walked away' from Rover, says union boss
The head of the Transport and General Workers Union, Bill Morris, has called on the public to vote with their wallets and buy Rover cars rather than BMW.

"It seems to me that BMW has left Britain and if British people leave BMW they will be making their own genuine choice in respect of that," he told the BBC's Breakfast with Frost.

Mr Morris said BMW had gone back on the three-way deal struck some months ago between the German firm, the TGWU and the government to try and save the Longbridge plant.

bill morris
Bill Morris is calling for long-term commitment
"It demanded BMW put forward the investment and the trades unions would improve productivity and change working practices.

"Every single thing possible has been done and it seems to me the only party to that agreement that has not delivered is BMW, they have just walked away," he said

BMW 'sensitive'

But Jon Moulton, head of Alchemy Partners, the new owner of Rover Cars, said BMW had not behaved badly.

"They have not succeeded which is a completely different thing," he told Breakfast with Frost.

BMW have been sensitive to cause "as little distress as possible" in the sell off of the company, he added.

However he said he could not yet reveal how many people at Longbridge would lose their jobs.

"We are just getting to grips with the levels of stocks, the level of production and sales, when we have got to grips with that we will know how many people we need.

jon moulton
Jon Moulton: No asset stripping by Alchemy
"We have no desire to maintain the workforce other than at that level which provides secure jobs for the future in a viable business," he added.

Mr Moulton flatly denied claims that venture capital firm Alchemy has bid for Rover in order to asset strip the company.

But he admitted it was possible that Rover would be sold on in five years' time.

Mr Morris responded that Rover workers and dealerships needed a more long-term commitment.

"That is no guarantee on which to build a quality company.

"If you are saying that all you can see is five years in terms of a long term strategy for this major company, you can't expect the government to come in and give public support.

"We need a commitment to British industry," he said.

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See also:

19 Mar 00 | Business
BMW 'lied about Rover sale'
18 Mar 00 | Business
BMW faces Rover payout call
18 Mar 00 | Business
Task force tackles Rover jobs aid
17 Mar 00 | Business
Blair fury over BMW
17 Mar 00 | Business
BMW blames sterling and sales
17 Mar 00 | Business Basics
What do venture capitalists do?
16 Mar 00 | Business
BMW's 'English Patient'
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