Unite is demanding that Simon Peckham, chief executive of Melrose PLC, urgently corrects his evidence to parliament following a select committee hearing today (February 23).
During the evidence session to the Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) select committee, Mr Peckham spoke about the announcement last month to close the GKN factory in Erdington, Birmingham, with the loss of over 500 skilled jobs.
Mr Peckham told the committee one of the reasons why Melrose had decided to close the Birmingham factory was because it was only an “assembly plant”.
The GKN factory in Birmingham in fact currently undertakes manufacturing work and has the capacity to increase this part of its operation.
Mr Peckham further told the BEIS committee that all the manufacturing work for the Erdington factory was undertaken at a separate factory in Bisenzio, Italy and as that factory “had spare capacity” the decision was taken to close Birmingham. He gave the MPs present the clear impression the work from Birmingham would be transferred to Italy.
However Unite representatives and officers, who have begun formal consultations with the company, have been informed that the work currently undertaken at the Erdington factory will be transferred to different European locations.
Unite national officer for automotive Des Quinn said, “Simon Peckham is guilty of misleading MPs and must apologise and correct his evidence immediately.
“The GKN Erdington factory has a world class manufacturing capability, currently undertakes manufacturing and should be given the opportunity to increase its manufacturing capacity in the future,” he added.
“Mr Peckham clearly indicated to the select committee that the work in Erdington will be transferred to Italy and yet GKN are indicating differently.
“Either MPs have been misinformed or the workforce has been misled. Melrose must swiftly correct the record,” Quinn continued.
“With the level of misinformation that has been given to the select committee, there must now be major question marks about the integrity of Melrose’s commitments to a “UK manufacturing powerhouse”.
“Unite remains committed to working with Melrose and all interested parties to ensure the decision to close the GKN factory in Birmingham is reversed and the jobs of the highly skilled and dedicated workforce are protected.”
The factory produces drivelines, primarily for the UK car market.
By Barckley Sumner