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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 November, 2004, 12:43 GMT
March to support Jaguar workers
Jaguar protest
Protesters are trying to save hundreds of jobs
Hundreds of people have marched through Coventry on Saturday in protest at plans to end car assembly at Jaguar's Browns Lane plant.

Workers will be balloted next week on whether to take strike action.

Jaguar says cuts are necessary to secure its future, as the firm is losing hundreds of millions of pounds.

It is estimated 1,500 people attended, including workers from the firm's two other plants in Halewood, Merseyside and Castle Bromwich, West Midlands.

The protest follows an announcement on 17 September, when Jaguar's parent company Ford said it wanted to end production of XK and XJ Jaguars in Coventry.

The general secretary of the T&G union, Tony Woodley, and his counterpart from Amicus, Derek Simpson, accompanied Coventry Labour MP Bob Ainsworth, himself a former Jaguar worker, and the city's Conservative lord mayor, Councillor John Gazey.

I think that kids of my generation should have the opportunity to work in their local area and not have to move
Martin Humphrey, 16
Outside the city's town hall, the rally was addressed by union representatives and 16-year-old schoolboy Martin Humphrey whose parents met at Browns Lane and who had hoped to start an apprenticeship at Jaguar.

"My mum and dad worked there and met there," he said afterwards.

"Why should they close the place when it's one of the most productive factories Jaguar's got?

"I don't want to see a good business go down because of someone's decision to just close it.

"I think that kids of my generation should have the opportunity to work in their local area and not have to move."

Shop steward Paul Duffy, 41, said he thought it was very unlikely the protest would reverse Ford's decision.

Office merger

He said: "It's about sending Ford a signal that they can't make decisions willy nilly or break agreements and that we're not going to stand for it.

"We're dealing with people's lives here."

Jaguar says under the plans, there will be 400 voluntary redundancies and 425 jobs will be moved to the firm's Castle Bromwich factory in Birmingham.

Jaguar will also lose 750 mostly white-collar staff, as office work is merged with Land Rover.

Jaguar has urged workers not to strike over the plans, saying it would not be in the interests of the firm, employees or customers.

The result of the ballot is expected in mid-December.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Why the Jaguar plant is so important to Coventry



SEE ALSO:
Ballot on strike action at Jaguar
24 Nov 04 |  Coventry/Warwickshire
MPs debate Jaguar job loss plan
26 Oct 04 |  Coventry/Warwickshire
Jaguar unions want city's support
22 Oct 04 |  Coventry/Warwickshire
Jaguar workers accept pay offer
14 Oct 04 |  Merseyside
Jaguar workers backed by Prescott
27 Sep 04 |  Coventry/Warwickshire


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