GKN workers take fight to Parliament

GKN workers to lobby parliament in battle to save factory from closure

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A group of workers employed at GKN Automotives in Birmingham will hold a lobby at Parliament tomorrow (July 6) in their campaign to prevent the factory from closing.

The event will take place from 1pm, at Old Palace Yard opposite Parliament.

The workers, who are based at the factory in Chester Road, Birmingham, produce drivelines for the automotive industry. In January the 500 strong workforce was left stunned when the parent company GKN announced that the plant was earmarked for closure, with work being transferred to Europe.

Since the announcement Unite has been working with other parties, including the local MP Jack Dromey, to keep the site open.

The plant is considered to be of critical importance to the future viability of the UK automotive industry as it undergoes the transformation to electrification. The production of drivelines compatible with electric vehicles will be essential for the overall success of the industry.

The government had initially made promises to provide support to ensure that the GKN Automotive site remains open and fully functioning. Those promises have so far proved to be entirely hollow.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is set to be challenged on the government’s inaction during business questions in the House of Commons, directly before the lobby of Parliament.

Unite regional officer Zoe Mayou said, “Our members at GKN are taking their fight to parliament today to make sure the government listens to their concerns.

“The government has promised to assist in ensuring that the GKN factory not only remains open but is a key player in the move to electric vehicles,” Mayou added. “Those promises have so far proved to be entirely hollow.

“If the government fails to step in and provide the real support and assistance that is needed to ensure this plant is ready for the electrification of the automotive industry in the UK, it would be not just a betrayal of the GKN workforce, but of the entire automotive sector in the UK.”

Last week Unite announced that its members had voted overwhelmingly in principle in favour of strike action. The union will now actively prepare for a full industrial action ballot which could result in strikes at the factory beginning later this summer.

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’.

Stay tuned on UniteLive for full coverage of tomorrow’s event.

By Barckley Sumner

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