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Former LTI taxi maker employees ‘shocked’ by redundancies

08/11/2012

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"I was told to go to a meeting where we were all herded into a room and told that our contracts  had been terminated straight away," said Peter Batters.

The 63-year-old is one of nearly 100 staff who was told last week that he had lost his job at Coventry taxi manufacturer LTI’s factory after the firm’s parent company Manganese Bronze called in administrators.image

Mr Batters had dedicated 37 years of his working life to producing London black cabs, and he admits he is "still in shock".

"We feel we’ve been betrayed by the directors because we’ve had false hope after hope," he continued.

"They could have given us proper notice and discussed what the selection criteria was going to be. None of that’s been done.

"My son works there as well and his wife’s just about to have a baby. We’ve both finished at the same time so it’s been like a double whammy in our family.

"I will look for another job but I don’t hold out much hope. "It’s got to be the worst time of year for it to happen."

Last month Manganese Bronze called in PricewaterhouseCoopers after failing to gain new funding.

The move followed a fault with its taxi’s steering box which led to the recall of more than 400 cabs and the suspension of sales. The fault still has not been rectified.

Despite 80 companies reportedly showing an interest in the ailing firm, 156 staff were made redundant with immediate effect last week.

‘Numbing and dramatic’

Some 99 out of 176 employees were released at the group’s head office and manufacturing site in Coventry. The other losses came at dealerships across the country.

One of the factory supervisors, Paul Williams, who is also a senior steward for the Unite trade union, said he found out his job had gone when he returned from holiday.

The 49-year-old said: "The first I heard about it was Saturday morning when I had a redundancy notice posted through my front door. "It was very numbing and dramatic.

"Colleagues said they were all divided into separate rooms to see if you were staying, if you were going or whether you were laid off.

"For a lot of people at the factory this is the only job that they’ve had since they were at school.

"Someone described it to me the other day as a bereavement in the family because it’s all they’ve known. They don’t know how to do a CV."

Unite officials remain in contact with the administrators on a weekly basis and Business Secretary Vince Cable has said he hopes a buyer could be found "to keep the company going as a successful concern".

Paddy Byrne had worked for the company for nearly 15 years, most recently as a fork-lift truck driver.

The 49-year-old said: "We were all expecting a few redundancies because we’d been in talks with the administrators beforehand but when they came out with the actual numbers it was a very big shock.

"A lot of people were in tears last week when it was announced.

"I’m not holding out that much hope because I’ve heard these things before at other companies."

Impact on streets of London

Steve McNamara from the Licensed Taxi Driver Association said the problem was causing a shortage of cabs in London, with about 1,000 fewer expected to be on the road by the new year from when the crisis first broke.

Mr McNamara said 300 had been recalled because of a fault while 200 had since reached the age limit of 15 years, with about another 500 expected to be too old by Christmas.

He said: "It’s causing all sorts of problems in the lead up to the busy Christmas party season.

"We’re meeting with the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, next week to ask him about temporarily relaxing the age limit of vehicles.

"The taxi trade in London really do feel for the people who make it in Coventry.

"There is an affinity between the cab drivers and the manufacturer.

"I’m optimistic that’s it’s not going to go and am hopeful the company can rise like a phoenix."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-coventry-warwickshire-20223061

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