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Shropshire Star comment: Vital that JLR staff are helped

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

The devastating news that Jaguar Land Rover is laying off 4,500 staff will undoubtedly have long-term ramifications for the West Midlands.

The region has seen a number of major firms either bite the dust or scale down operations in recent years, so it is no surprise that the plight of the automotive giant has set alarm bells ringing.

The speed with which JLR's troubles have taken a grip on its UK operations is quite breathtaking.

In the three months to the end of September 2017 bosses posted a healthy pre-tax profit of £385 million – a figure which had transformed into a £90m pre-tax loss by the same stage the following year.

As industry experts have said, JLR has found itself in the middle of a perfect storm.

Concerns about UK competitiveness post-Brexit – an issue that JLR warned would become a major one for UK manufacturing more than a year ago – have undoubtedly played a part.

But this should not give those of a pro-Remain persuasion an excuse to resort to political point scoring.

For JLR, a chronic slowdown in Chinese sales, primarily as a result of global trade wars, has been a major blow.

On top of that, a slump in diesel sales was always likely to hammer a company that invested so heavily in developing diesel engines.

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The company says it is committed to transforming its fortunes, and it is good news that the next generation of electric drive units will be produced in the West Midlands.

But for the time being, our focus must be on the workers affected by these redundancy plans.

The task force set up to support staff must act quickly to ensure that measures are in place to assist them to get back into work as soon as possible.

There needs to be a close examination of the likely long term impact of this move on the region as a whole, as well as its likely effect on other firms.

While jobs in management, marketing and administrative roles are expected to be the hardest hit, it is likely that very few areas of the business's operations will be unaffected.

Our thoughts are with JLR staff and their families at this difficult time.

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