Black cab maker attracts interest from 80 firms, says MP
Eighty companies have expressed an interest in troubled Coventry-based taxi maker Manganese Bronze, Coventry MP Geoffrey Robinson has said.
The MP and unions met administrators to see if redundancies can be suspended.
Administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has made 156 people redundant, including 99 of the 176 in the city.
Mr Robinson, the Labour MP for Coventry North West, said PwC was working to find a buyer which he conceded was "the only way forward".
He said: "They've got 80 enquiries already and a timetable to get down to some serious buyers by the middle of this month and hopefully they'll be into serious negotiations in December.
"It's about the only bit of good news."
The Coventry firm trades as the London Taxi Company and the remaining redundancies are at its dealerships.
Unite national union officer for the automotive industry Roger Maddison said workers were "shell-shocked" following the announced job losses on Wednesday afternoon, saying they were "fully prepared to talk to the company about any sort of saviour package".
He said if the company was to be sold, it "needs those highly skilled people still employed by the company, otherwise people are just buying bricks and mortar".
Labour councillor Lynette Kelly, cabinet member for development at Coventry City Council said she was angry with the way the workforce had been treated.
Ms Kelly said: "There were things we were told by the chief executive on Friday who reassured us, the unions, that there was a future for the factory, that they were confident this firm was going to continue.
"They were confident that people were going to continue in their jobs.
"Whatever was said on Friday obviously did not really reflect the true situation of this factory and it is devastating news for everybody that works here because the ones that aren't made redundant, they must be really concerned about their future.
"It's not good news for the city."
She said the council was going to talk to those being made redundant to see if their skills could be taken to other manufacturers as there is "demand for skilled workforce in the West Midlands".
An iconic company
Ms Kelly also urged the administrators to find somebody to take over the company as she feared Coventry was going to lose its last major car manufacturer.
Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said that every redundancy is "extremely regrettable" for individuals and the wider economy, and she hoped for a turnaround.
She said: "In this instance, the blow is not the volume of redundancies, it is the fact that this iconic company finds itself in the position it is in currently.
"In the short-term, we are speaking to local partners around how the Chamber and other organisations might be able to help both the company and the workers.
"We will be speaking to the administrators to see how that could pan out but there are certainly many companies in this region who tell us that they struggle to find skilled engineers.
"There could be a chance to match some of those workers who are being made redundant to some of those posts that are available at other companies in the region."