Union leaders are making last-ditch pleas to the Government to offer help to West Midlands car giant Jaguar Land Rover in a bid to safeguard tens of thousands of jobs.

Officials from Unite were involved in behind-the-scenes moves aimed at drawing up a package of support for the luxury carmaker and other manufacturers facing heavy losses as the UK heads for a recession.

Joint leader Derek Simpson has already warned ministers that action was needed in "days not weeks", adding: "Only action by the Treasury in the next few days will safeguard the tens of thousands of jobs and the many communities across the country depending on car manufacturing for their livelihoods."

Industry sources said on Monday it looked increasingly likely that any package of measures will not now be announced until the New Year.

Car factories across the UK, including those run by Jaguar Land Rover, are closed for an extended Christmas shutdown, but financial pressure on motor firms is growing.

"There will be top level discussions going on throughout the next few days to try to get a deal agreed, even if the details are not announced until the New Year," said a union source.

Unions are continuing to press the Government to offer some form of aid despite speculation that Tata, the Indian owners of Jaguar Land Rover, had agreed to inject tens of millions of pounds into the company to prevent an immediate cash flow crisis.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has been making it clear over the past week that the Government was looking to Tata to take action to help its British firm.

The minister said the Government did not have an "open cheque book" to help private companies facing problems because of the credit crunch.

Lord Mandelson has said that Jaguar Land Rover will have to pass "tough tests" before it gets any help from the Government. The minister has played down the prospect of a quick bailout for the British car industry despite pleas from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders for help.

>More: JLR workers facing anxious Christmas break