Thousands of Jaguar Land Rover workers have less than two weeks before a crucial vote on whether to accept a pay freeze and other cutbacks - or risk the loss of up to 1,800 jobs.
Sources say unions at JLR have been given a fortnight to digest demands for more job cuts and cutbacks in pay and other working conditions as the credit squeeze continues to wreak havoc for the car sector.
Whilst unions and management at JLR have agreed a temporary pact of public silence to enable workers to consider the latest proposed cutbacks, the clock is already ticking ahead of a shopfloor vote on the package.
The firm, which employes 16,000 in the West Midlands and Merseyside, has already announced plans to axe 300 management positions and cut salaried agency personnel by 150.
JLR chief executive David Smith has warned that more job cuts were inevitable with no sign of an end to the automotive sales crisis.
Workers at JLR contacting the Post have said that shop stewards have warned of a major new round of cutbacks to avert up to 1,800 job losses - including a proposed four-day week, a reduction in shift payments, scrapping holiday bonuses, a pay freeze, an increase in pension contributions from employees and around 500 more voluntary redundancies.
Employees say if agreement on the cuts is not reached, 1,800 more jobs will go, raising the spectre of potential compulsory redundancies, a prospect which has always been opposed by JLR unions.
Neither unions nor management have said they will veer from last week’s statement, which confirmed further major savings were being sought because of an “urgent need to reduce costs in the light of the credit crunch”.
The latest fears about job cuts will put further pressure on the government to look at ways of assisting JLR and the ailing automotive sector, which has been severely hit by the economic downturn.
The Birmingham Post has launched a campaign calling on the government to provide urgently-needed bridging loans to the carmaker during the credit crunch. An online petition on the Downing Street website has received more than 7,600 names.
Lord Bhattacharyya, head of Warwick Manufacturing Group, said the world car industry has been hit by a “global tsunami.”
He said: “The world car industry crisis is not part of a normal cyclical downturn. It has been hit by a global tsunami.
“In Britain, it has been suggested that providing Government loans or loan guarantee support to Jaguar Land Rover and other vehicle makers is akin to the billions of pounds in taxpayer subsidies that were poured into the bottomless pit of British Leyland in the 1970s. The truth is that there is no comparison.”
Meanwhile, it has been claimed Gaydon-based Aston Martin has admitted it could breach its banking covenants later this year, although chairman David Richards said the luxury car firm, which announced 600 job losses before Christmas, was not facing immediate cash flow problems.