Unite is deeply alarmed that Deeside based Witter Towbars appears intent on closing its manufacturing site in Deeside, north Wales and offshoring the work to Romania.
Unite was informed that the company planned to make 94 workers redundant earlier this month but the union believes that if Witter’s parent company Horizon Global Group was prepared to enter into meaningful negotiations, jobs and the company’s manufacturing capability, could be saved.
Following two consultation meetings and despite the company claiming closing the manufacturing capability “is only a proposal”, Unite now fears that Witter is just going through the motions and is not serious about saving jobs.
One crucial factor is the reaction that Jaguar Land Rover will have the decision to outsource the manufacture of the towbars used on its vehicles to Romania. The company prides itself on being a British manufacturer. It is thought that Witter will seek to circumvent these concerns by retaining a packaging and distribution facility in the UK.
Unite is further concerned that attempts by the Welsh government to assist the workforce have been effectively blocked by the company. The Welsh government has twice contacted the company, without success, in order to initiate their ReAct programme, which helps workers affected by redundancy gain new skills and encourages recruiting employers to hire redundant workers. However the Welsh government can’t introduce the programme without the company’s support.
Unite is working with the local Welsh Assembly member Carl Sargeant on a solution for the site and the union is also pleased that Ken Skates, the Welsh government’s cabinet member for Economy and Infrastructure will attend the next consultation meeting which will be held next Wednesday (September 6).
Unite regional officer Jo Goodchild said, “Witter and its parent company need to show that they are serious about examining all the possibilities for this site, rather than just going through the motions and then making workers redundant before Christmas.
“Unite is also keen to learn whether Jaguar Land Rover is comfortable with its towbars being produced in Romania which clearly devalues its ‘British brand’,” she added. “Being packaged in Britain is not nearly the same as being made in Britain.
“If the company is hell-bent on pressing ahead with these redundancies, then it is a complete dereliction of its responsibilities to a dedicated workforce, which is compounded by not working with the Welsh government and helping workers gain alternative employment.”