Fighting for MG Rover


Richard Burden recently hosted a briefing in Parliament for MPs whose constituencies are within the travel-to-work area of MG Rover. At the meeting, the MPs were given an update by MG Rover Director of Communications on the strategy behind the proposed joint venture between MG Rover and the Chinese motor manufacturer, Shanghai Automotive (SAIC).

With the Longbridge plant in his constituency, Richard has been active throughout his time as an MP on the issue of MG Rover. He played a pivotal role in the campaign that saved the Longbridge plant from closure when BMW announced its withdrawal in 2000. He is in regular contact with trade unions representing workers at MG Rover as well as the management of the company, as well as taking up the issue in Parliament and in meetings with Ministers.

Richard said: “ A successful conclusion to the negotiations between SAIC and MG Rover is vital to securing a long term future for the company and jobs at Longbridge. It promises the prospect of investment coming in to the plant and a range of new models for sale in European markets, as well as helping provide the technology and know how for models to be produced in China for their booming car market.”

“There is no doubt that, operating as a small to medium sized player in a ruthlessly competitive global market, MG Rover faces major challenges. Tony Woodley, the Transport and General Workers Union leader, was also right to observe recently that workers at Longbridge will probably face a “bumpy ride” in the short term as the benefits of the tie up with SAIC come through.”

“The important thing now, though, is to stay focussed on securing the long term future of this company on which so many jobs depend, and which is central to the Midlands manufacturing base.”

“Remember, many “experts” wrote off Rover when BMW pulled out but MG Rover and the people who work there proved them wrong. Nothing is guaranteed for the future but I believe that there is every prospect of the management and workers at Longbridge confounding the sceptics once again.”

Richard was also a member of the Rover Task Force which was established by the Government in 2000. Looking at the broader manufacturing scene in the West Midlands, many of its recommendations have been taken up over the last five years by the DTI and agencies such as Advantage West Midlands. Richard went on to say that a lot more remained to be done to modernise, diversify and regenerate the West Midlands manufacturing base. That is not only important for motor and other manufacturing companies, but also for communities – such as Birmingham Northfield – which depend on them.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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