On a visit to the Jaguar plant at Castle Bromwich, the Minister called on bosses and unions to agree a deal to avert a stoppage which could damage the company’s reputation. Mr Cable spoke out as thousands of workers throughout JLR prepared to vote in a ballot recommended for rejection by the Shop Stewards Committee .
Shop stewards have called on workers to reject a deal worth around 14 per cent over three years amid fears that pensions will be cut to help pay for the rises.
Dr Cable, who was at Castle Bromwich to launch JLR’s new £250,000 cutting-edge Education Business Partnership Centre, said: “The pay issue is a matter for the company and the union to sort out themselves.
“I do not get involved in pay disputes.
“But what I would say is that I think it would be tragic if this finished up as a strike. This company and this industry is doing extremely well.
“Part of this is based on the confidence of companies. If that reputation were lost, it would do serious harm. It is very, very important that we do not finish up with a strike. It would send out a very bad signal.”
JLR chief executive Ralf Speth has written to workers urging them to accept the three-year deal, worth 7.7 per cent in the first year alone.
Dr Cable said JLR’s new Education Business Partnership Centre was a key development, with Britain needing more than two million more engineers over the next eight years.
“The next generation of engineers are fundamental to driving growth in the automotive industry. That’s why I’m delighted to open JLR’s innovative education centre during Tomorrow’s Engineers Week.
“The centre will be at the heart of Jaguar Land Rover’s investment in training our future car creators and makers, and will give young people the chance to fulfil their potential in a world-leading manufacturing environment.”