National march for manufacturing to take place in Birmingham
A national march and rally in Birmingham to bang the drum for manufacturing was announced today – as LDV called for £1 million a week from the Government to keep it afloat.
As the Birmingham van-maker called on Downing Street for a two-month cash lifeline, senior figures from business and industry revealed plans for a national protest march in the West Midlands.
The Rover-style rally in the city will be held on May 16 - backed by a host of national industry figures, including Unite union leader Tony Woodley, former Trade Minister and CBI Director-General Digby Jones and Paul Everitt, Chief Executive of the Society for Motor Maunfacturers and Traders.
The march is expected to attract thousands to the streets of Birmingham and focus national attention on calls from business and unions alike for a UK wage subsidy to help firms forced to introduce lay-offs and short-time working during the current downturn.
Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of Unite the union, said: “This will be a unique occasion when people will set off with one goal, to pressure the Government to put manufacturing first.
“This will be a national demonstration, to be held in the middle of the country, in the area which is still the heartland of British manufacturing.
“We want government support to keep the factory lights on for our members. This has gone beyond critical now.
“We cannot carry on seeing the government continue to allow the market to determine how many manufacturing jobs will survive. The market has collapsed and we need Government intervention.
“Whether it is France, Belgium, Spain or Germany, they are all doing a damn sight more than here in this country. The German government have already got a short-time subsidy scheme and that has increased from nine to 18 months.
“There is no doubt that we need a subsidy scheme to maintain the skills of our people. It is no good putting billions of pounds into the banks to bankroll the speculators if we do not have a plan for manufacturing and a plan for jobs.
“The government should be bankrolling jobs, not bankrolling the bankers.”
Meanwhile, LDV today spelled out the urgent need for a Government-backed loan to stave off the threat of closure as would-be investors Mahindra and Mahindra sought talks with the Government over the van-maker’s future.
LDV PR and Marketing Director Guy Jones said: “The critical thing is getting through the next few weeks. We are not going to get the money from anybody else.
“We need £1 million a week for a period to satisfy creditors and keep the head count intact. Due diligence could take eight weeks so we are talking about £5 million to £10 million.”
The would-be investors met LDV’s Russian owners GAZ in London yesterday and talks were expected to continue ahead of a proposed meeting with the government.