Urgent need for State support - SIMI


THE IRISH motor industry has warned that time is running out for Government support. It has called for the introduction of a scrappage scheme similar to those in France and Germany, and for changes to the current system of VAT on dealers.

There is growing concern that if nothing is done to bolster sales in the first quarter, it may be too late to save jobs later on. Initial new car sales estimates up to February 20th show the market is down 63 per cent on the same period last year.

According to Alan Nolan of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), there is a large degree of discontent at an apparent lack of urgency on the part of the Government. “At a time when every day counts in terms of job losses, we will be looking at changing our strategy in raising the profile of the dire issues facing the industry at present.”

Meanwhile, workers at General Motors’ (GM) Opel and Vauxhall brands have been called on to join a day of protest tomorrow to push for a “secure future”for Opel, Vauxhall and Saab.

GM, owner of Opel, Chevrolet and Saab in Europe, is reportedly making preparations for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US. Lawyers are providing similar plans for Chrysler.

At present this is considered a contingency plan but both firms are likely to use the threat of bankruptcy to push further cost cuts.

On Monday, Ford and the United Auto Workers union reached a tentative deal for the carmaker to make up to half of its contributions to a new union-managed healthcare fund in the form of shares.

Ford said the deal, as well as changes to its 18-month-old labour contract, would allow it “to become competitive with foreign automakers’ US operations”.

The new arrangement could result in the UAW becoming an important shareholder in Ford.