28 January 2021

Plans to close factory making parts for car companies

28 January 2021

Manufacturing giant GKN is proposing to close a factory making parts for the automotive industry, threatening over 500 job losses.

Unite said it was seeking urgent talks to discuss the future of the plant in Birmingham, which GKN has owned since the 1960s.

It is understood that the factory has been an industrial site since the 1930s.

The workforce have been left shocked and angry to learn that management is looking to close this highly viable site

A spokesman for GKN Automotive said: “Proposing this closure is a difficult decision which has been made despite significant effort and investment over the past 10 years to reduce the high operating costs at the Birmingham assembly site.

“Sadly, an increasingly competitive global market means that the site is no longer viable.  Supporting our people is our priority as we consult on our proposals”.

Unite said it has been told the factory will close in 18 months time.

National officer Des Quinn said: “The workforce have been left shocked and angry to learn that management is looking to close this highly viable site.

“Unite is now seeking urgent meetings with senior management at GKN to understand the business case and the logic behind this decision.

“Unite is committed to working with GKN to find a feasible solution, which will keep the factory open and preserve the jobs of this highly skilled workforce.”

GKN was bought by investment firm Melrose Industries in 2018.

Jack Dromey, Labour MP for Birmingham, Erdington, said Melrose had promised a bright future to employees when it bought GKN.

“Despite all the warm words by Melrose in 2018 to protect the future prosperity of GKN and its British workforce, the cold reality three years on is that one of GKN’s finest plants now faces closure. Melrose promised a bright future to GKN’s employees – a promise they have now broken.

“This announcement is completely unexpected by employees at GKN.

“Government ministers also have a responsibility to act after promises they made at the time of the hostile takeover.

“The then Prime Minister, Theresa May, promised me on the floor of the House of Commons that the Government would always act in the UK national interest. We now face the potential of British workers seeing their jobs move abroad to one of GKN’s many continental plants.

“If this Government means what is says when it aims to level up our country, this must start here and now with an urgent solution being found to keep the plant open.”

The announcement followed news that the number of new cars built in the UK last year fell by almost a third to less than a million, the lowest total since 1984, leading to the loss of thousands of jobs.

Production fell by 29.3% compared to the previous year, down to 920,928 units, said the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

The trade organisation said a fall in car production of 2.3% in December rounded off a “dreadful year”, with auto manufacturers hit by the impact of the coronavirus crisis as well as uncertainty for most of 2020 about a Brexit trade deal.

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