The vast majority of workers at manufacturer Manganese Bronze have been axed – threatening an end to Britain’s black cab-making heritage.
Administrators of the Coventry firm were called in last week and have cut a total of 156 members of staff despite holding talks with potential buyers.
The firm called in PwC after failing to secure a loan from Chinese shareholder Geely, with which it has a joint venture in the Far East and being stung by having to recall 400 cabs after a fault with the vehicle’s steering box was identified.
Unions have called for the Government to step in to save what was a thriving industry, but the company has been loss-making for four years.
Unite national officer for the automotive industry, Roger Maddison demanded that PWC re-instates the workers and has questioned how PwC can treat the company as a going concern with virtually no staff.
He said: "Only last night PwC were telling us there were significant interested parties. Now the administrators are ruthlessly sacking over 150 highly skilled workers at the iconic black cab maker.
"The black cabs are world famous and we believe this company has a future. How can PwC treat this company as a going concern with virtually no staff?
"The black cab is part of Britain’s car manufacturing heritage the government must now be on standby to save this historic company from being left to the vultures."
Only 55 people are now employed by the company in Coventry – previously the majority of its 277-strong workforce were based in the city.
Its sales have been in decline in recent years – selling 1,502 taxis in the UK last year, compared with 1,653 in 2010, a fall of 9.1 per cent – forcing it into a profit warning in January.
Earlier this month the company stopped sales of its new TX4 model after it discovered a problem affecting the vehicles’ power steering, sourced from an unnamed new supplier since February.
The company said it had not put anyone in danger but "in extreme cases, it could affect the ability to steer the steering wheel".
Matthew Hammond, joint administrator and PwC partner, said: "Regretfully, without financial support to overcome the group’s operational issues we have had to make staff redundancies.
"While the steering box recall remains, there is a voluntary suspension on vehicle sales, and we are now concentrating all resources on testing the solution to the steering fault. We have retained sufficient numbers of staff across the dealership, head office and production network to address the operational, technical and financial circumstances that the business faces."
Mr Hammond said in total 108 staff have been retained or laid off. The 12 that have been laid off have been sent home on partial pay and will be called back into work should vehicle production start up again.
Of the 176 employees based at the Group’s head office and manufacturing site in Coventry, 99 have been made redundant and of the 98 employees based at the dealerships in London, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Coventry, 57 have been made redundant.