‘Fight tooth and nail’

GKN Birmingham workers balloted for strike as battle to save factory intensifies  

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Workers at the GKN Automotive factory on Chester Road in Birmingham, owned by venture capitalists Melrose, are being balloted for strike action after the company confirmed its intention to close the factory.

Despite the factory’s critical importance to the electrification of the UK’s automotive industry giving it a positive and profitable future, the company is pressing ahead with plans to close it by 2022 for ‘short term profit hikes’.

In May, company bosses rejected an alternative business proposal put forward by a coalition of GKN workers, the factory’s senior management, Unite officials and local politicians, including MP Jack Dromey.

GKN has also refused to meet with ministers, despite the government making clear it will provide significant assistance to ensure the Birmingham plant is a success.

In response to the company’s continued insistence that the work will be moved abroad, Unite will be balloting its members at the factory, which employs 500 people and produces car drivelines, for strike action.

The ballot will open next Monday (16 August) and close on 31 August.

Unite national officer Des Quinn said, “When Melrose bought GKN in 2018, there were howls of protest when fears were raised that the new owners could asset strip the company.

“Melrose’s current actions will make many people believe their assurances to GKN’s shareholders that the opposite was true were empty words.

“Melrose has every opportunity to keep this factory open, including a viable alternative business model, promises of support from government and a crucial role to play in the electrification of the auto industry.

“It is certainly not the actions of a company that vowed, when taking over GKN, to establish a ‘UK manufacturing powerhouse’.

“Instead, it looks like the actions of a company committed to short term profit hikes at the expense of business longevity and sustainability.

“Melrose can bet their bottom dollar that our members will fight tooth and nail to prevent this factory being sacrificed to the whims of the market and they have the full support of their union behind them.”

By Ryan Fletcher

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