Calls for reduced working hours to save car industry

The government faced calls for creative action such as reduced working hours to help the UK’s car industry, as unions branded its £2.3bn support package as too little too late.

Tony Wolley, joint general secretary of Unite the Union, suggested a government subsidised short working week would help the industry, and said thousands of skilled workers still faced the spectre of redundancy.

His comments came in response to Business Secretary Peter Mandelson’s plan to unlock £2.3bn in loans for car manufacturers and suppliers for investment in lower carbon initiatives. Spending on skills and training for employees will be boosted to £100mn from its current £65mn, if there is demand from the industry.

Mandelson said: “The steps we are taking will help companies speed their way to being greener, more innovative and more productive. This is the route to securing jobs for the long term as we build a more balanced economy for Britain’s economy.”

Union Unite welcomed the assistance but criticised the measures for falling short, and said at least half of the £2bn would be taken up by Vauxall and Jaguar Land Rover alone, leaving little or nothing for the hundreds of competent companies.