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March for jobs came too late for some of LDV's workers.

7,000 march for manufacturing jobs - page 5

Adversity, according to the proverb, makes strange bedfellows.

And no two bedfellows could, at least at first glance, seem stranger than Lord Digby Jones and Tony Woodley.

Yet here were the former leader of the CBI, the "bosses union", and the general secretary of Unite marching together through the streets of Birmingham in Saturday's demonstration against job cuts.

Actually, their joint presence was not all that strange. Lord Jones has been a tireless campaigner for British manufacturing and the skilled jobs it supports. Mr Woodley, for his part, represents the modern face of trade unionism that combines hard bargaining with a realistic understanding of the problems that companies face in the teeth of recession and foreign competition.

Lord Jones, who for all his dining at the high tables of capitalism has never strayed far from his Longbridge roots, said on Saturday: "I'm losing my marching virginity. Tony Woodley and I don't agree on many things but on this issue he is absolutely right." The Government needs to understand that if nothing is done to keep manufacturing skills alive in cities such as Birmingham, international investment will ultimately decamp to Mumbai and Shanghai..

It's a lesson, though, that the Government seems reluctant to learn, if its less than helpful response to Jaguar Land Rover's appeal for help to keep the wheels turning during the recession is anything to go by.

On the other hand it has offered cash aid to LDV which looks to have been rescued by its Malaysian joint-venture partner Weststar at the eleventh hour.

Sadly, the deal is likely to be at the expense of jobs among LDV's Washwood Heath workforce as production volumes are cut to reflect a deep downturn in the vans market.

For them, and despite the presence of Lord Jones and Mr Woodley, Saturday's march for jobs came too late..
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 18, 2009
Previous Article:IN THE SPOTLIGHT.
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