As formal consultations with Honda begin today (February 21) over the future of its plant in Swindon, Unite joined the first meeting of a taskforce set up to support workers.
The taskforce meeting, held yesterday (February 20) brought together trade union and local and central government representatives, including business secretary Greg Clark to devise a plan to save the plant and safeguard jobs and skills in the area.
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner, who attended the meeting said the union “pressed hard” and “really needed to hear that the UK government would be working as tirelessly as we will be to save this plant, its extended supply chain and the families and communities who rely upon it.
“We heard that we will be given that support from the secretary of state, Greg Clark MP and we will be taking him at his word on this,” he said, commenting after yesterday’s meeting.
“We need central government, local and regional authorities as well as innovative supply chain partners to join us in developing a viable alternative plan that maintains both Honda in Swindon and the UK automotive industry as a jewel in the crown of UK manufacturing,” Turner added.
“In doing so, we will be sending a clear message back to Japan that we are not giving up on our plant and we will not let Honda give up on it either.”
Turner likewise pledged Unite would continue to fight for the plant on Sky News the day Honda confirmed on Tuesday (February 19) the news about the plant’s future:
Unite has highlighted that the devastating blow to the community would not only affect the 3,500 direct jobs at Swindon – there are some 15,000 more jobs under threat at dozens of small and medium firms across the country supplying only to Honda.
Turner praised Unite members for turning up to the meeting “determined to show that we are not giving up the ghost. The fight for a secure future began today”.
He said the “united message” from the meeting is that “this plant can and should be at the core of an innovative transition from combustion engines to fuel cell and electrical propulsion”.
Turner outlined the potential for the auto sector to be transformed with UK investment and R&D into next generation battery technology, coupled with the local manufacturing of power conversion systems.
The sector he said can be “a powerhouse for the emerging technologies that will shape this industry through the 2020s and well into the 2030s.
“This is the message we want to be heard in Japan and Unite will be joining government in a delegation to do just that.”