An investment firm is still aiming for a “predatory” takeover of engineering company GKN despite having two bids rejected in recent days.
In response, Unite held an emergency meeting of GKN stewards today (January 17) to discuss the “destructive” bid.
The union is calling on GKN shareholders to spurn speculator Melrose’s advances and demanding the government block its attempts.
Unite is the main union representing workers across GKN’s UK automotive, aerospace and research and development divisions which employ a total of 6,000 workers.
GKN’s board have twice declined offers from Melrose, which specialises in taking over other businesses, rebuffing a £7bn offer made on Friday and a £7.4bn offer made today (January 17).
However, Melrose is still attempting to win GKN investors over. The takeover bid comes after GKN suffered profit warnings in October and November.
Unite’s Birmingham GKN convenor and European Works Council chair Mick Forbes said, “Melrose has a track record of cutting costs, which normally translates into redundancies and job losses, so that’s obviously a big concern for the workforce.
“I’ve been at GKN for 40 years and every time we’ve ended up in a difficult situation we’ve been able to get ourselves out of it. We’re better sticking with the present board. They’ve got a plan to turn things round and they’re determined to fight this all the way – as are the GKN unions in Holland and Spain.”
GKN Filton convenor John Sweeney also said staff are worried about the future of their jobs.
He added, “They’re concerned as well that this could be used a lever to change terms and conditions to increase shareholder profits if the bid doesn’t go through.”
Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said if the government allows the bid to succeed, GKN, one of the nation’s oldest engineering firms, faces being asset stripped.
He said, “This is a predatory unwanted bid for a long standing engineering company, one of the biggest in the country, and our members don’t want it.
“If the government stands back and watches it happen, their industrial strategy will be in tatters, because all Melrose will do is sweat GKN and sell it on.”