Five regional papers in the UK have launched a joint campaign to persuade readers into signing an online petition to force the UK government to rescue the iconic brands Jaguar and Land Rover, now owned by Tata Motors, so that 75,000 jobs could be saved.
The Coventry Telegraph, Birmingham Post and Mail, The Daily Post, Liverpool Post and Echo combined forces in a bid to save Jaguar - Land Rover by urging the government to come out with the much-needed auto bailout to enable automobile manufacturers in the UK to tide through the current economic crisis.
Jaguar and Land Rover were acquired by Tata Motors from Ford for £1.15 billion in June last year (See: Tata Motors becomes new owner of Jaguar, Land Rover) with the backing of the workers union Unite in exchange for a promise of no-layoffs.
However, the liquidity crunch and declining sales in the aftermath of the acquisition forced Tata Motors to cut production, warning that jobs could be lost if the government did not come forward to ease the credit market or make available £1 billion in low interest loans to tide over the current crisis.
The five papers are now urging the government through its online e-petition on the Downing Street website to provide the necessary loan to the British brands to tide over the credit crisis and retain its role as the leading car manufacturer in UK.
Birmingham Post editor, Marc Reeves said the joint campaign by the five newspapers was one of the most important to have been launched in the newspaper's150-year history.
Writing in the front page of the paper, Reeves said, "Today, we urge the government to act to help our car industry compete on a level playing field in the global market. Without access to credit, JLR and others in the automotive industry will simply run out of the fuel they need to power their operations.''
"In the worst case, this could lead to the demise of significant players in the sector - and certainly to the loss of thousands of jobs," he added.
Business leaders, council chiefs and MPs across the city, have already lent their support to the campaign and urged its readers to help by signing the petition.
Coventry South MP, Jim Cunningham has been an active campaigner for the Jaguar - Land Rover bailout and had pleaded the case with Chancellor Alistair Darling and has also bought the issue to the House of Commons.
Cunningham said that ever since com[paqny officials explained in detail of the problems at the company, he was convinced that the government should step in to give JLR with a loan guarantee as the company is also involved in research and development at the facility in Whitley in developing modern technology for the future.
JLR is one of UK's largest investors in low carbon technology and was hiring a large number of engineers to work on this technology at its plants in Gaydon, Warwickshire, and Coventry.
The UK government however has taken an eternity on deciding on the issue and has appointed global consulting firm KPMG and investment bank NM Rothschild to provide guidance on the issues facing JLR and the problems of the car industry. The Tatas are understood to have asked for a loan at normal commercial rates. (See: UK government in dilemma over JLR bailout)
Politicians also joined forces in support of the campaign and backed calls for a government loan to support JLR through the credit crunch as banks have refused to lend and they said that the company is viable and has a future.
With recession in the UK coupled with banks refusing to lend and free credit flows, has put the brakes on the company's cash flow, which employs nearly 16,000 people out of which, 600 had already lost their jobs and 850 jobs of contract workers have also been terminated and plans to extend its shutdown at three plants for a further period from the New Year time it had given earlier.
Although the company has not asked for a definite sum from the government but industry sources say that JLR would require about £1 billion over a period of two years to tide over the present crisis.
CEO of JLR, David Smith had said that the auto industry also wants the government to help car finance companies to get loans from the banks as they also rely on the credit market to lend consumers.
Smith said that JLR and the UK auto industry is asking the government to free the tight money market, which will stimulate demand and Tata's was considering injecting millions of pounds into JLR as new working capital although it was itself facing the tight flow.
Meanwhile, JLR has come up with an innovative scheme where employees are offered leave of up to three months in exchange for a temporary 20 per cent pay cut and the employee is allowed to work elsewhere during this period.