Longbridge workers are determined to "pull another rabbit out of the hat" to save their jobs despite the receivers being called in last night, according to a senior trade union leader.

Tony Woodley, leader of the Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWU) told The Birmingham Post he was "devastated" by the car manufacturer's decision after talks with SAIC finally faltered.

Despite a statement from Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt that the Government had "done everything possible", Mr Woodley took little comfort from her statement.

He said: "It's the end for Rover at this point in time because the company has called in the administrators. This is a truly devastating day for me and our members."

However, Mr Woodley claimed MG Rover's denial of the receivers being called in did little to hide the stark facts from its workforce.

He added: "Whether Rover deny it or not, the reality is they are now in administration and the message from Shanghai is that they did not believe the long-term viability was there.

"It's a company that's run out of money and that's the reality. It's absolutely devastating.


Don't miss 'MG Rover: Past, Present and Future' - a special 20 page supplement published with Saturday's Birmingham Post.


"We've already called for meetings with management and the Government as we're not prepared to see Rover go to the wall.

"Now we've got to pull another rabbit out of the hat like we did five years ago.

"When BMW walked away in 2000, they wanted to give Rover to a bunch of venture capitalists and sack 10,000 people - but we fought back and drove the venture capitalists out.

"But we always knew we were on borrowed time unless Rover saw new money for new models and SAIC was our best shot."

Tony Murphy, Amicus's national officer for motor vehicles and components, warned that up to 26,000 jobs could be lost as a result of Rover going into administration.

He believes between 60 and 70 per cent of these are located in the Midlands, but added that the union's 1,500 members at Longbridge remained "realistic" about their future.

Mr Murphy said: "We knew sales were falling, that there were cash-flow problems and that we needed new investors to design and produce a medium-sized car.

"SAIC seemed to be the best option and we really thought it was going to happen.

"Whether they will now try and get Rover at cut-price remains to be seen, who knows someone else could come in and pick up the pieces.

"The jobs are in major peril now and what happens when the suits come in will be anyone's guess.

"I do hope Tony Woodley can manage to pull another rabbit out of the hat, because I honestly don't know where we can go from here. I've spoken to a few members tonight and I think workers at Longbridge are quite realistic about the situation.

"For every assembly line job there are three or four others. We've already had calls from major companies saying how many job losses this will mean for them.

"We've been here before but I don't think we'll get out again like we did last time."

Richard Burden, the Labour MP for Northfield whose constituency covers Longbridge, said: "It is devastating news for everybody in the West Midlands. But one thing there is no doubt about is that everybody did everything they possibly could to bring this deal about. At the end of the day, SAIC did not feel able to complete the deal despite the fact there have been negotiations for a year. They did have concerns nobody could allay.

"The offer of #100 million was there on the table. SAIC has confirmed that is the case, but would not have allayed their concerns.

"What is important now is that we fight to preserve manufacturing at Longbridge. That is vital.

"But it is also vital a support package is put in place to support the West Midlands and perhaps particularly the area around Longbridge. It makes the regeneration of parts of Birmingham so important." Sir Digby Jones, Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: "It is a sad day for the West Midlands and all the hardworking employees that have lost their jobs.

"There was clearly no deal that the Government could facilitate and the challenge now is for everyone to pull together to create sustainable jobs for all the skilled people who tonight are facing an uncertain future.

"Britain's success has not been built on governments propping up unviable companies. The country's valueadded economy calls for more skilled people making goods that consumers want to buy."

Caroline Spelman, shadow Secretary of State for Local Government Affairs, said: "Many of my constituents will be hit very hard by this. I am in close consultation with local industrialists and other local groups about how we can regenerate the area."

The Meriden MP added: "What we need now is to provide the most effective help we can to rebuild the livelihoods of the Longbridge workers, their families, and the thousands of others who rely on Longbridge.

"The West Midlands has great manufacturing expertise, and we will be working tirelessly to ensure that we can retain the skills base in the region."