Unite warned that the UK is in the grip of a manufacturing emergency after the latest economic figures showed manufacturing had shrunk 3.9 per cent with motor vehicle production plunging by a record 24 per cent.
Calling for a no-deal Brexit to be taken off the table in the wake of today’s (June 10) figures showing the UK economy contracted by 0.4 per cent, Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Steve Turner said, “We are in the grip of a manufacturing emergency. Whole sectors, including automotive and firms such as British Steel are fighting to secure their futures.
“Those Tory leadership hopefuls pushing a no-deal Brexit as some sort of test of virility to secure the keys to Number 10 should look at these dire economic figures and be in no doubt of the damage a cliff edge Brexit will do to the car industry and UK manufacturing,” he added.
“The car industry is being crippled by Brexit uncertainty with investment plummeting. At the same it is facing global challenges from tariff wars and a collapse in market confidence, it is dealing with the unprecedented shift away from diesel and petrol powered engines,” he went on to say.
Turner pointed to the half a million jobs in manufacturing that have gone in the last decade under the Tories, while in recent weeks the announced closures of Ford Bridgend and Honda Swindon are now, he said, “hanging over the households of car workers and their colleagues in the supply chain.
“Millions of livelihoods and the future of manufacturing communities across the UK are hanging in the balance,” he noted. “The game of playing roulette with people’s lives needs to end. A no-deal Brexit needs to be taken off the table and a deal secured which ensures an on-going customs arrangement and tariff free, frictionless trade secured.
“The government must also start walking the walk when it comes to its industrial strategy,” he added. “It needs to use government procurement to support UK Plc while investing billions, not millions, like other nations do into research, development and production which supports the transition to electric and alternatively powered vehicles.
“Ministers must also ensure the UK has local supply chains, manufacturing capabilities and charging infrastructure for the next generation of electrically powered vehicles.
“Anything less will see the jewel in the UK’s manufacturing crown tarnished and our world beating car industry flung permanently into reverse while the hard work of highly skilled manufacturing workers is betrayed.”