In this afternoon’s Budget Day debate, Grahame Morris MP condemned plans by notorious venture capitalists Melrose Industries to close the GKN automotive factory in Birmingham.
The Easington MP said, “I fear that the investment-led recovery and levelling up agenda is set to fall at the first hurdle.”
GKN was taken over by Melrose in 2018. Serious concerns were raised at the time about its implications for national security, and the future of the GKN brand.
In an attempt to allay these fears, Melrose promised to rebuild GKN into a “British manufacturing powerhouse.”
500 highly-skilled workers at the Chester Road site are now facing the sack.
Unite the union – of which almost all of these 500 employees are members – has branded this pledge “at best misleading and at worst a direct lie.”
The news has come as a shock both to the workforce and their union, which until recently had been in discussions with management about boosting investment into the site.
Melrose maintains that the plant is “unviable” owing to the transition to vehicle electrification. Unite disputes this, and is developing a rescue plan which will secure a bright future for the site.
The union also accuses Melrose CEO Simon Peckham of misleading MPs on the BEIS Select Committee last month about what kind of work takes place on the site.
With the Government bringing forward its ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 to 2030, the shift to Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) production is more urgent than ever.
However, it is vital that the transition to electric is investment-led and sustainable.
GKN can trace its origins back to the birth of the industrial revolution, with more than 260 years of history that include producing cannonballs for Waterloo and parts for Spitfires that flew in the Battle of Britain.
The Government owes it to the 260-year history of one of the largest UK industrial companies to defend and protect its prosperity, as we make the shift from the internal combustion engine to electric.
Mr Morris, who chairs the Unite the union Parliamentary Group, concluded, “I urge the Government to join with Unite and Melrose to examine alternatives to the closure of the GKN Automotive plant, and to prevent Melrose from asset-stripping and then disposing of this historic British company.”