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January 29, 2021

“Shocked” workforce as GKN looks to close Birmingham site – union

British labour body, Unite, says proposals by GKN to shutter its plant in the UK Midlands city of Birmingham with the potential loss of 519 jobs, has left the workforce "shocked and angry."

By Rhodri Morgan

British labour body, Unite, says proposals by GKN to shutter its plant in the UK Midlands city of Birmingham with the potential loss of 519 jobs, has left the workforce “shocked and angry.”

The union has also raised concerns surrounding the possible loss of skilled production from Britain at the site, which produces drivelines for GKN, but the supplier insists the factory is no longer viable in an increasingly competitive global market.

“Unite is at the moment highly concerned highly skilled manufacturing jobs could be lost from the UK and transferred to factories in Europe,” a Unite spokesman told just-auto.

For his part, Unite national officer, Des Quinn, added: “The workforce have been left shocked and angry to learn management is looking to close this highly viable site.

“Unite is now seeking urgent meetings with senior management at GKN to understand the business case and the logic behind this decision.

“Unite is committed to working with GKN to find a feasible solution, which will keep the factory open and preserve the jobs of this highly skilled workforce.”

The labour organisation is now looking to talk to GKN management, although it was not immediately able to confirm to just-auto when those discussions might take place.

GKN’s Chester Road site is in the Erdington area of Birmingham and will come as a blow to the region, which has traditionally been at the heart of UK automotive manufacturing and many of its suppliers.

“Proposing this closure is a difficult decision which has been made despite significant effort and investment over the past ten years to reduce the high operating costs at the Birmingham assembly site,” said a GKN statement sent to just-auto.

“Sadly, an increasingly competitive global market means the site is no longer viable.  Supporting our people is our priority as we consult on our proposals.”

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