GKN workers plan strike over factory closure but company ‘won’t change decision’

Staff at the factory are due to go on strike at the end of September as they look to take action to save more than 500 jobs.

GKN Driveline, Birmingham (google maps image)GKN Driveline, Birmingham (google maps image)
GKN Driveline, Birmingham (google maps image)

Workers at the GKN engineering plant in Birmingham will go on strike later this month as they bid to prevent the factory’s closure - but the company has said it will not change its decision to close the site.

The factory in Erdington assembles driveline systems for petrol and diesel cars and more than 519 skilled jobs will be lost if the site closes.

Members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, employed at the GKN Drivelines factory in Erdington have announced that they will begin ‘all out continuous strike action’ later this month.

The strike is scheduled to begin on Monday, September 27, after the ballot had a 95% turnout with 93% of workers voting in favour to take action to prevent the closure.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner, said: “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.

“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.”

Unite national officer Des Quinn said: “If strike action should occur it will swiftly cause delays and problems throughout the UK automotive sector, which is reliant on a just-in-time delivery system for car components.”

In response to the vote, a GKN spokesman said: “GKN automotive is disappointed by the result of the ballot but respects the right of our colleagues to take legitimate industrial action. However, this does not change our difficult decision to close the Erdington plant.”

Some of the work carried out at the Chester Road site in Birmingham would be transferred to other GKN plants abroad.

GKN’s parent company, Melrose, pledged to keep some aerospace operations in the UK during its takeover of GKN in 2018 but this did not include GKN’s automotive division.

Jack Dromey MP with the GKN shop stewards Jack Dromey MP with the GKN shop stewards
Jack Dromey MP with the GKN shop stewards

Responding to the ballot result, Jack Dromey, MP for Birmingham Erdington, said: “The result sends a clear and unambiguous message to Melrose/GKN that the 519 workers will do all in their power to save the historic Chester Road plant from closure.

“In one of the poorest constituencies in the country, the closure of the Chester Road plant would be a hammer-blow to the local community.

“The workers have mine and the local community’s 100% support. As their local MP, I and their trade union, Unite, will continue to explore all options to keep jobs and production at Chester Road. We believe there is a way forward and we stand ready to enter any talks to save the plant. GKN/Melrose and the Government must now show the same commitment.”

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