Worried Jaguar workers vowed to stay positive as they backed a Birmingham Post campaign calling on the government to help the Midland carmaker through the recession.
Workers, who are anxiously awaiting news of a vital multimillion pound government loan, said they believed the quality of the cars they are making will see them through the tough times.
Last week the Birmingham Post, backed by four other leading regional newspapers, launched a campaign calling on the government to support Jaguar and Land Rover as its failure would be catastrophic, with 16,000 jobs directly affected and at least another 60,000 in the supply chain.
In an interview with The Post, Prime Minister Gordon Brown admitted that the government was in talks with JLR owner Tata but said there were issues to be resolved and that “first responsibility” lay with the Indian conglomerate.
Worker, Allan Sly, a 28-year-old dad of two from nearby Castle Vale, said it was a worrying time for everyone at Castle Bromwich.
The group leader, who has worked at the plant since he was just 16, said everyone had to get on with it.
Allan has an 10-month-old baby and a four-year-old and he said staff believed that the quality of the products would see them through the recession.
He added: “All we can do is our bit and get on with it. We all believe in the product.
“Years ago I think they were classed as an old man kind of car, but I think they are now much better. Nobody has said a bad word about the XF and it has won award after award.
“But every time you watch the TV or open a newspaper there is more news of job losses somewhere. It just used to be one or two, but now there are firms collapsing all the time.
“It’s a British company and I think the government needs to support us in every way that it can. They do drive our cars themselves.”
Allan’s colleague Julia Quinn has grown up children, but she is just as concerned about the future.
The 44-year-old from Nuneaton works in the XF body area and has four children aged between 16 and 21 with her partner.
She said: “I have older children, but there are still worries about supporting them through university, college and buying cars.
“I was here in the last recession during 1991, but this one seems to be worse. It seems to be just dragging on for much longer and it’s not just the car companies that are in trouble.
“Everybody and every company is affected in every sector and I think we can take some little comfort that it’s not just us.
“We all believe in the cars that we make. It’s going to be a rocky ride, particularly this year, but we hope we can come out of it at the other end.
“I really believe in the campaign to get the government to back us. I think the more noise that is made on our behalf the better.”
Nigel Allen is another worker with two teenage children, who said he was worried about the future.
The 39-year-old group leader said: “Obviously it’s a concern at the moment for all of us.
“But we remain optimistic. The models are fantastic. It’s just unfortunate timing because people do not have the ability to buy the products.
“But this issue is more than just about jobs at Jaguar and Land Rover, it is also about the other companies in the supply chain.”
David Harman has just got engaged and admits that it’s an awkward time for him as he is also trying to sell his house.
The 51-year-old divorced dad of two and grandad of one from Great Barr, works as a group leader in the paint repair area. He said: “We have to be hopeful and we have to keep manufacturing in the West Midlands. Obviously it’s a difficult time for everybody.
“For me personally I am divorced and have just got engaged and I am trying to sell my house, so it is awkward. But I have to look to the future and my future is here with Jaguar.
“I would hope that the government can guarantee a loan to the company and my message to Gordon Brown is to put pressure on the banks to start releasing money to individuals and companies, so that people can start buying our products.”
Kev Caplise said morale is not as bad as people seem to think. The 40-year-old dad of three from Hinckley has worked at the Castle Bromwich plant for nine years.
He said: “I am nervous, but who wouldn’t be at the moment?
“I have three children and a mortgage to pay like everybody else. But I believe that if we can get through this year we have the products we need to succeed.
“Morale is not as bad as people would have you believe.”
Ivan Bowers has two married grown up children and a grandchild.
The 53-year-old from Measham, near Leicester, works on the assembly line of the XJ model.
He said: “This company is not asking for a bailout, it wants a loan from the government that it will pay back.
“We seem to be in the eye of the perfect economic storm, but we have the right products and we believe we can pull through. Losing your job is a massive concern though, nobody wants to lose their job and we feel sorry for the people who have already unfortunately lost their jobs across the country.”
Jaguar’s XF range, a model which has sold around 42,000 vehicles since its launch last spring, has provided the momentum behind Jaguar’s recent buoyant performance, clocking up overall sales across all models of more than 65,000 cars last year.
“We have been delighted with the way the car has been received. At the last count, it had 29 global awards,” added Mr Mohan. “We are the only manufacturer in our sector in the UK with sales up for 2007. This signifies what Jaguar saloons will look like in the future - the XF is a global success story.”
Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, head of Warwick Manufacturing Group, who has close connections with the JLR parent group, welcomed the fact that talks were continuing. He said: “Hopefully, a solution will be found by the end of the month.
“Nobody is asking for a bail-out and rightly so. The government has to be careful but we need to look after sustainable companies which are the future of this country.”