Workers at GKN Driveline in Birmingham have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action in the battle to prevent the closure of the factory on Chester Road.
The closure would mean the transfer of work overseas resulting in the loss of 519 skilled jobs and apprenticeships and opportunities for coming generations.
The workforce demonstrated their determination to secure a long-term future for their plant with a 95 per cent vote in favour of strike on a 95 per cent turnout.
“This is a tremendous result and shows the determination and confidence of the GKN workforce to fight for their jobs, their community and the long-term future of their plant,” said Unite assistant general secretary, Steve Turner.
The vote also showed confidence in both their union, the alternative proposals developed to save the site and their opposition to the plans by the parent company GKN Melrose to close the plant.
“This is a highly viable plant which could and should be playing a leading role as the UK moves to the electrification of its automotive sector,” said Turner.
Following the decisive yes vote, Unite has called together all interested parties to reach agreement on future production and support including the government, local politicians, GKN’s customers – such as JLR, Toyota and Nissan – the Advanced Propulsion Centre and GKN Automotive CEO Liam Butterworth.
“It is now incumbent that everyone concerned with the future of GKN Driveline including customers, the government, local politicians and GKN’s parent company Melrose PLC, come together to hammer out a future for the plant and the UK’s supply of key components,” said Turner.
Long drawn-out dispute
“The alternative is a long drawn-out dispute that will damage both GKN and the company’s customer base,” he added.
A failure to reach agreement could see strike action hit the plant and customers over the coming weeks.
“We have called an urgent meeting of all parties involved and expect both GKN, its customer base, as well as the government, to respond positively to a viable alternative plan to secure the plant’s future,” said Turner.
“The ball is now firmly in GKN and Melrose’s court and how they respond will dictate how this dispute will develop over the coming weeks and months,” he added.
The plant makes drivelines for the UK’s automotive industry.