GKN workers will be travelling from workplaces across England to the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday (February 28) to lobby MPs and demand Theresa May’s government stops Melrose’s debt-fuelled takeover bid of the British-based engineer.
Working in aerospace, automotive and defence, the workers from the South West, West Midlands and South of England believe a takeover by Melrose could lead to GKN being sold off piecemeal and jobs cut or shipped abroad.
Unite is urging the secretary of state for business Greg Clark to use his powers under the Enterprise Act (2002) to block Melrose’s bid in the public interest.
Under the act the secretary of state can intervene on issues of national security. GKN is a major defence partner to Airbus and Boeing and supplies and maintains UK defence equipment used by the Royal Air Force and the Army. In addition to Typhoon, GKN is also involved in the F-35 joint strike aircraft, as well as the Chinook and Black Hawk helicopter programmes.
GKN workers will be meeting and briefing MPs from 10:45am on Wednesday (February 28).
“There is mounting concern across political parties and business over Melrose’s debt-laden bid and the risk it poses to UK jobs and defence interests,” said Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner.
“GKN will be saddled with over £1.3 billion of debt if Melrose succeeds with its bid, while its advisors will pocket upwards of £140 million in fees. This is a deal that would have ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ licking his lips and leaves workers fearful that they will ultimately pay for this debt-fuelled bonanza with their jobs.
“Technology and jobs risk being shipped abroad and because of GKN’s defence work our national security is at risk,” he added. “The message from our members is clear. Theresa May’s government must use its power to block the bid to protect jobs, communities and our national security.”
Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Tony Burke pointed out that GKN is a world class manufacturer.
“It is essential to the government’s industrial strategy and is one of the jewels in Britain’s manufacturing crown,” he said.
“In Melrose’s hands, all that would be put at risk and ministers’ plans for the UK to be a leader in electric vehicles could be left in tatters.
“Melrose’s debt-fuelled bid would not happen in France or Germany. Theresa May has said she will act in the national interest. It’s time she did and saved British jobs by ensuring her government stopped the GKN takeover.”