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Last Updated: Friday, 15 April, 2005, 18:36 GMT 19:36 UK
Rover workers face up to the end
By Ian Wood
BBC News website, Longbridge

Cartwright family
Andy and Gemma Cartright and children with the family's Rover 45
"I'm stuck for words and nearly in tears," said one MG Rover worker after hearing the news that he and nearly 5,000 of his colleagues are to lose their jobs.

As confirmation of the redundancies filtered through the Longbridge plant, workers and their families looked shocked and disheartened.

They stopped to say goodbye to security guards for one last time.

Within hours of the announcement, most people gathered at Gate Q were from the media to cover the plant's final end.

One worker who remained was Andy Cartwright, 41, from King's Norton in Birmingham, who worked in the paint shop.

He had been at Longbridge for 15 years, and could readily appreciate the wider effects of closure.

"The people there are lovely, but it isn't just about Rover, it's about the whole community.

"It's going to make a huge impact in the whole area - shops, takeaways and so on."

Andy's wife Gemma Cartwright organised the delegation of workers and their families who travelled to 10 Downing Street on Wednesday.
MG Rover flowers
Flowers express sadness at the demise of MG Rover

Geraldine Pearson, the wife of a worker, was among 200 people who joined the lobby.

"The way they (the workers) have been treated is absolutely disgraceful. We did a march on Downing Street, but we have been let down."

Despite the news, campaigners have organised a second rally to take place on Sunday.

A convoy of MG cars are to meet at Gaydon Motor Museum at 1000 BST and travel to Longbridge for noon.

While some vowed to fight on, others who rely on the plant for their daily trade said they believed many shops would now have to close.

"It will affect the whole area," said Pauline Adams, who has worked at a shop near the plant for 20 years.

"Almost entirely my business is with Rover.

"We do sandwiches for them; we know them all by name and they are friends.

"Such a sad moment knowing you are not going to see them again. It could be from today as they have been told not to come in on Monday.

"I could cry now, it's been really emotional. I have known some of them for over 20 years.
Ray Egan as John Bull
John Bull mourns the end of mass car production at Longbridge

"The newsagent said he will have to shut up right away because he relies on Rover.

"John Towers should be hung and I think a lot of the Rover workers think that as well."

Retired policeman Ray Egan, from Harborne in Birmingham, turned out at Longbridge to lend moral support, dressed in the John Bull uniform which he first wore at the mass march for Rover in 2000.

"When I heard the news, I put the flags to half mast and put on the black armband.

"To me, this is the death of a bastion of Britishness, because Great Britain is the greatest country in the world, but we're going to hell in a handcart.

"I look at the children and I wonder, what kind of future have they got?"


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