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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 April 2006, 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK
Peugeot unions consider striking
Peugeot workers
Workers said they feel utterly betrayed
Unions have said they are considering industrial action over the news that 2,300 workers will lose their jobs when a Warwickshire car plant closes.

It follows the announcement that the Peugeot plant at Ryton, near Coventry, will close by mid-2007.

A union spokesman said industrial action may not be taken straight away, but they will fight the decision.

Peugeot has blamed high production and logistical costs for the decision. Work has halted while staff attend meetings.

The message to the board in France is that it's not going to be a walkover and to think again
Des Quinn, Transport and General Workers' Union

Following a mass meeting of the workforce, union leaders said workers felt totally betrayed and said if the company had hoped for a trouble-free closure then they could think again.

Unions are set to meet with management on Thursday.

Questioned about how they might fight the company, Des Quinn, of the T&G, said it did not have to be through strikes.

"We are looking initially at a social and political campaign, which might involve disruption to car sales or Peugeot's operations," he said.

"The message to the board in France is that it's not going to be a walkover and to think again."

He added that they had received support from workers in France.

I don't know what I am going to do now... I sat down and cried last night... I don't know what hope there is at the moment
Peugeot employee of 17 years

Communications director John Goodman said he realised it was a difficult time for staff and that employees had brought about tremendous productivity improvements.

"Unfortunately that just doesn't change the economics of the situation because the situation is that Ryton is the most expensive manufacturing plant in Europe," he said.

Mr Goodman added that every car produced there cost 415 euros (286) more than anywhere else in Europe.

In the House of Commons the prime minister expressed sadness and sympathy for the workers set to lose their jobs.

Ryton plant
Production at Ryton will halt in July 2007
Tony Blair said such job losses were "inevitable" from time to time and were the result of global pressures, not the British position, which remained healthy.

Tory leader David Cameron said the closure was a "desperate blow" that was a symptom of a loss of economic competitiveness under Labour.

One Peugeot employee of 17 years, who attended Wednesday's meeting, said he did not think workers would support a strike.

He said union members laughed when leaders said they were proposing industrial action.

"It was a very boisterous meeting and fairly defeatist too.

"Why cut our own throats? The company has made the decision and it is going to close," he said.

He added he would like to see the unions fight for the best deal for the workers.

"I don't know what I am going to do now. I sat down and cried last night.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Manufacturing is a backbone of society
Gordon Kerman, Edinburgh

"I don't know what hope there is at the moment. I think we are feeling sorry for ourselves."

He said he expected to be back at work on Thursday.

Production at Ryton will move to a single shift in July and halt completely in mid-2007.

In 2004, up to 1,000 jobs were lost in Coventry when Jaguar moved production to Birmingham.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear what local people think about the plant closure



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