Workers at the London Taxi Company were understood to be attempting to lock themselves in at their Coventry factory last night after the insolvency accountants now running the business sacked more than half the workforce.
The news of the sackings came hours after workers had read upbeat messages from PwC about the list of potential bidders for the stricken company. Late yesterday it emerged that PwC, the administrators of Manganese Bronze, which makes and markets the black cab through the London Taxi Company, said it would be making 156 workers redundant. It would leave just 96 workers on full pay with others sent home on standby.
On Tuesday, Matthew Hammond, the lead administrator, said: “There has been an enormous amount of interest . . . those expressions of interest — domestic, from Europe and internationally — gave us a fantastic start and puts us in a better position than we might normally have been in at this stage.” Mr Hammond had also paid tribute to Manganese’s engineers, who he said “effectively hand-build” the cabs.
Unite, yesterday expressed outrage at the redundancies. Roger Maddison, the union’s carworkers’ leader said: “Only last night PwC were telling us there were significant interested parties. Now the administrators are ruthlessly sacking over 150 highly-skilled workers. How can PwC treat this company as a going concern with virtually no staff? The black cab is part of Britain’s car manufacturing heritage.”
At the Coventry plant where unrest was being reported last night, 99 workers were made redundant, with just 55 kept on. PwC said the retained staff would focus on finding a solution for the steering fault, which led to the withdrawal of 400 new cabs and the suspension of all sales. Manganese had been plagued this year by plunging sales and an IT-related black hole in its accounts.
The other redundancies came at Manganese’s black cab dealerships in London, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Coventry.
Source : The Times