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The BBC's Nicholas Jones
"Ministers appear to believe there is no alternative"
 real 28k

Sunday, 9 April, 2000, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Millions to retrain Rover workers
Rover Longbridge
Workers are preparing for large scale redudancies
The government has allocated 5.5m in emergency funds to help workers made redundant after BMW's decision to sell Rover.

The cash will pay for them to be re-trained and will also be used to launch a special internet site with information on job opportunities.

Rover workers are still hoping there might be another bid to purchase Longbridge from BMW so as to maintain high volume car production.


A Rover worker
Rover workers will receive new skills training
But there has been no indication of that and ministers are stepping up their plans to cope with large scale redundancies in the 9,000 strong workforce.

The package, announced on Sunday morning by the Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett, will help car workers who find themselves out of work after many years of doing the same job.

They will be given a number of opportunities ranging from basic computer training to help in setting-up their own small businesses.

Skilled workers will be given help in adapting to new jobs, and new employers will also be helped in providing training.

Internet site

The new internet site is aimed at Rover workers who do not live close to Rover sites.

The money will go to Training and Enterprise Councils in the areas affected and also Birmingham City Council.



Rover workers still hope a new buyer will save their jobs
Mr Blunkett said:"This package will benefit those people facing redundancy. It allows them to re-equip themselves for work and encourages other local employers to give them the chance they deserve.

"It is too early to make final decisions about the help required, but I welcome the planning by the local Task Force.

"I am pleased that I am able to agree quickly and in full to their bid to the Rapid Response Fund. My department and the Local Government Office will continue to work with them over the coming weeks.

"My announcement means that there will be no delays to the start of help when the situation clarifies."

'A good start'

Mr Blunkett was also keen to reassure workers that new jobs can be found.

He said that since the microchip company, Fujitsu closed down its factory in Durham two years ago, 90% of the workforce had found new jobs.

Unions welcomed the money as "a good start" on a huge job.

Sir Ken Jackson, general secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, said: "Whatever bid eventually succeeds, there will be job losses.

"The AEEU will be doing its bit to put in its resources to retrain and re-skill our members, but this decision (to sell Rover) has affected all kinds of businesses across the region and many people will need help finding new jobs."

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02 Apr 00 | Business
Blair: No rescue for Rover
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