Members of Unite employed at GKN Birmingham have today (May 6), along with the joint consultative committee, presented an alternative business plan to the company’s senior management, as part of their campaign to prevent the plant’s closure.
The 500 plus workforce at the Chester Road plant, which produces automotive parts, were left shocked and fearing for their futures when GKN Automotive, owned by Melrose, announced in January that the plant was earmarked for closure in 2022, with work being transferred to plants in Europe.
In response to the announcement, Unite established a team of union officers, senior management at the plant, shop stewards and local politicians, including local MP Jack Dromey, to develop an alternative business plan to keep the plant open. That detailed work has now been completed.
The alternative business plan highlights that the Chester Road site has an excellent record of delivering on improvement and transformation plans on time and on budget.
Coupled to this is that the workforce is highly adaptable in a fast changing environment and can operate in difficult circumstances. This has been demonstrated by how the workforce has reacted to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The alternative business plan details a high value of operational savings and establishes a set period when potential investment will be paid back.
In a further boost to the alternative business plan, the government has made it clear that it will provide significant assistance to ensure that the Birmingham plant is a success.
Frank Duffy, the Unite convener at the plant, said, “Senior figures representing workers and management have developed an excellent comprehensive alternative business plan which will ensure the future of the Birmingham plant.
“What we now need is for the management at GKN Automotive to show the commitment and desire to work with Unite and the government to secure the future of the plant,” he added.
“The government’s commitment to assist with securing the future of this plant is crucial, the door is firmly open to GKN Automotive,” Duffy continued.
“The workforce at Birmingham has committed to deliver for GKN Automotive, it is now time for GKN Automotive to deliver for its Birmingham workforce.”
Since 2018, GKN has been owned by venture capitalists Melrose. Melrose’s purchase of GKN was highly controversial. In response to fears that GKN was going to be asset stripped, Melrose promised shareholders and investors that it would establish a ‘UK manufacturing powerhouse’.
By Barckley Sumner