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August 16, 2021

Unite sends GKN Automotive staff strike ballot papers

Dispute rumbles on as union sends out strike papers.

By Simon Warburton

British labour body, Unite, says staff at the GKN Automotive factory in Birmingham will start to receive strike ballot papers from today (16 August) in the dispute concerning the decision to close the site next year.

Unite is putting the motion to its members at the venture capitalist, Melrose-owned factory, which employs 500 people and produces car drivelines, with a potential for strike action in mid-September.   The union maintains an alternative business plan developed by GKN workers, the factory’s senior management, Unite officials and local politicians, was rejected by the supplier in May.   “Members have had no option but to ballot for strike action as GKN Melrose has shown zero interest in seriously examining alternatives to closure,” said Unite national officer, Des Quinn.   “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 2018, when Melrose purchased GKN, it promised not to asset-strip the company but to create a UK manufacturing powerhouse. That promise now appears entirely hollow.   “An urgent inquiry is needed into how much money GKN Melrose has received from the government for research and development. If that money is not going to result in investment in manufacturing in the UK, it should be paid back.   “It is morally reprehensible UK taxpayers are being asked to fund GKN Melrose’s research, when at the same time the company is intent on offshoring strategically vital work to Europe and forcing 500 workers onto the dole.”

GKN had no immediate updates concerning the ballot, but previously noted: “GKN Automotive has fully considered the counter proposals put forward. However, the outlook for the highly competitive automotive market remains unchanged.

Regretfully, therefore, we are proceeding with our proposal to close the site. Supporting our people continues to be our priority.”

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