Almost two-thirds of those who lost their jobs when car giant MG Rover collapsed are still out of work, a leading union claimed today.

Amicus said only 28 per cent of the 6,000 workers made redundant in mid-April were now in other employment.

The figures contrast with official Rover Taskforce ones published last week which showed that 2,346 workers had been found jobs. Another 1,809 had booked onto training courses.

Amicus claimed that of those who had found work, only 15 per cent were employed in manufacturing, and most had suffered " substantial" cuts in pay, with average salaries falling from almost £23,000 a year at MG Rover to less than £8,000 in some cases.

It said the average fall in pay was 15 per cent and insisted its research backed up claims that highly skilled, well paid jobs could not be replaced.

General secretary Derek Simpson said: "Well paid, highly skilled jobs such as these are being lost at a terrifying rate and people have to resort to low skilled, part-time and agency work which is insecure and low paid.

"The results for these individuals and their families cannot be underestimated but the ramifications for our blighted manufacturing communities and the long-term future of our economy are even greater."

Among the former MG Rover workers interviewed by the union was a 57-year-old ex-production line operative who used to earn £23,000 and who was now employed as an amusement ride worker in the West Midlands for £7,200 a year.

Another ex-worker said he had tried five different alternative careers since the car firm closed and is now training to be an HGV driver.