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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 April, 2005, 19:34 GMT 20:34 UK
Rover workers' fears for future
By Zoe Gough
BBC News, at the Longbridge plant

MG Rover's Longbridge plant
Gloom still hangs over the Longbridge factory
The rain clouds that have been gathering over MG Rover's Longbridge plant seem to reflect the gloomy atmosphere inside the vast factory.

As some of the 6,000 staff started trailing through the gates at the end of Thursday's afternoon shift, they cut an image of a disheartened workforce.

Those still willing to talk to the media spoke of their frustration and despair at the lack of a decision over the company's future.

Concerns over whether employment would be continuing meant many felt their lives had been put on hold.

One, a 50-year-old assembly worker employed at the factory for 17 years, said a suspension of production on Thursday was "the beginning of the end".

A former Rover worker
Morale is at rock bottom, all they hear is rumours
Former Longbridge worker

"The mood is not very good, I've worked there for a long time and I've never seen it so bad before," the father of two teenage sons said.

"We don't know what's going to happen at the moment. All we're getting at the moment is bad publicity and bad vibes, people don't know if they are going to have jobs in a week's time.

"They are frightened about whether they are going to lose their houses and whether their families are going to suffer."

A 65-year-old former worker was also at the gates to see what all the fuss was about. He expressed annoyance for his son, who still works at the factory.

"It has been bad management all the way through, my son's generation have been working hard. These blokes have given everything, flexible working, no overtime pay," he said.

'You just plod on'

"They are keeping their fingers crossed but morale is at rock bottom, all they hear is rumours."

Another male worker said: "It is hopeless at the moment until we find out something different, all we want to know is a positive yes or no.

"Life has been on hold, people don't know what's happening, it's their jobs, they have all got families and mortgages."

Martin Brown
Martin Brown hopes the future is good as 'the talent is there'

Ian Lambeth, 46, a maintenance worker at the plant for 25 years confirmed production of the MG TF sports cars was continuing.

But the divorcee, who has one 17-year-old son, said he still had concerns.

"It is only me paying my house, it is difficult but you just plod on," he said.

"I'd love to get 30,000 if it closes, but on the other hand I want it to stay open for the next five to eight years for the lads with families who are reliant on this place, they don't know what is going to happen whether they are going to lose their houses or anything."

Martin Brown, 52, who works in product development said: "Most people are keeping their heads down. I think it is the beginning of a decision.

Sandra Whitby, Bryony Cooke and Connor Whitby
Salon owner Sandra Whitby fears for local businesses

"I'd like to do more work, the talent is there to deliver it, it needs money.

"I hope the future of Rover is good, I rejoined five years ago and I'm aware there is a lot of talent there."

The shadow of MG Rover's uncertain future has also cast itself into the nearby community. Hair salon owner Sandra Whitby said she fears for all of the local businesses.

"If the whole thing closed down there would be no business here, we haven't got passing trade," she said.

"I also worry about the price of our houses, whether they are going to lose value if the factory does go."

Shopkeeper Annand Patel, 23, agreed the closure of Rover would make things difficult.

He said: "I don't mind them taking a long time about it, rather than rushing and making wrong decisions."


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