Fleet News

Rover agreement clears way for new models

UNION agreement on sweeping changes in working practices at Rover's threatened Longbridge car plant paves the way for the manufacturer to build vital new small fleet models, it was claimed this week. In return for operating cost savings of £150 million a year, parent company BMW's £1.5 billion investment in the ailing Midlands factory means an all-new range is now likely to replace the existing 200 and 400 series from 2003.

A month of talks between BMW and Rover bosses and trade union officials following the British International Motor Show announcement that the giant Longbridge plant faced closure unless productivity was significantly improved has produced an agreement. Rover's 38,500 workers must now approve the deal, but that appears almost a certainty, as to veto the plan would virtually be akin to signing up to the closure of at least the Longbridge plant. The BMW subsidiary's 200-strong shop stewards' committee voted on union recommendations to accept the rescue package which calls for the loss of up to 3,000 jobs and the introduction of a four-day, 35-hour fully-flexible working week, reduced pay and the abolition of bonus payments throughout the Rover Group. That will be followed by a workers' ballot, with Rover hoping for a positive outcome by the end of next week.

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