Members of Unite employed at the GKN Drivelines factory in Erdington Birmingham, have announced that they will begin an all-out continuous strike action later this month, as part of their ongoing battle to keep the factory open. All-out continuous strikes will begin on Monday September 27.
In January the parent company Melrose GKN announced that the factory, which makes drivelines for much of the UK’s automotive sector, would close in 2022 with the loss of over 500 jobs, with the work being offshored to Poland and France.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “GKN’s cynical attempt to close its Erdrington plant is a disgrace. We will not stand by and let this employer offshore British jobs without a fight. We will leave no stone unturned in the ongoing battle to ensure the future of the Birmingham factory and our members.”
The union initially delayed issuing strike action and instead arranged a meeting with all interested parties to reach agreement on future production and support. However Melrose GKN refused to attend the meeting after initially accepting an invitation to do so.
As a consequence Unite had no option but to initiate strike action.
Because of the ‘just in time’ nature of the automotive industry supply chain, strike action will very quickly affect production at several of the UK’s car plants, primarily Jaguar Land Rover, but Nissan and Toyota will also be heavily affected.
The GKN Driveline factory should be primed to be playing a key role in the electrification of the UK’s automotive sector, building the new propulsion units needed in electric vehicles.
Unite understands that Melrose GKN has received millions of pounds of taxpayers money for research and development at its centre in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.
Unite believes that if Melrose GKN is not going to employ UK workers in the areas in manufacturing where it is developing new technology, then not only should all UK government support be frozen, but previous money that the company has received should be repaid.
Unite national officer Des Quinn commented, “Melrose GKN has grave questions to answer, if it has taken government money for research and development and now intends to use what it has developed abroad, that is a betrayal of the workforce, a betrayal of Birmingham and a betrayal of UK taxpayers.”
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, it promised shareholders and investors that it would establish a ‘UK manufacturing powerhouse’.
Pic by Mark Thomas at an event earlier this year
By Barckley Sumner