In this month’s column I wanted to focus on the future of two key local manufacturers – GKN and Jaguar Land Rover.
I have worked closely with both world-class companies for many years now and I care deeply about the futures of both and their hard-working and talented workforces. These are good people producing high-quality products that are exported globally and they are a great source of pride for Erdington.
Over the past few weeks, there have been a number of developments in relation to both and I have been working hard to secure their long-term futures.
First, the news that Melrose, the company who own GKN, are planning to close the Chester Road plant came as a complete shock to the 519-strong workforce. A company with a rich history – having produced cannonballs used at the Battle of Waterloo and parts for Spitfires used in the Battle of Britain – GKN has been a key part of our local community for many years.
GKN was subject to a hostile takeover by Melrose in 2018, and assurances were sought and given over the future of UK production at the time. Now, just 3 years later, Melrose look set to break the promises they made by exporting the jobs from the Chester Road plant to continental Europe.
I have raised this issue on the floor of the House of Commons on multiple occasions and, along with their Trade Union, Unite, I have secured a meeting with Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, on Thursday 4th March to discuss ways the Government can help to secure the future of GKN.
I am determined to find a solution that will keep the plant open and save the jobs of the employees who work there.
On Jaguar Land Rover, talks are continuing to secure the long-term future of the Castle Bromwich Plant.
The announcement the company would be becoming an “all-electric” luxury brand by 2025, with every vehicle available in all-electric form by the end of the decade, is welcome in terms of tackling climate change. However, I am determined to ensure the continuation of production at the Castle Bromwich site.
Currently, mass production at the site will end in 2024. However, JLR have pledged that there will be no compulsory redundancies because it will consolidate other operations at the site. This is to be welcomed, but I am working closely with the company and Unite to make sure the Castle Bromwich site has a long and prosperous future.
Whilst I am working to secure the futures of these two companies here in Erdington, the future of manufacturing up and down the country is being put at threat by a combination of the impacts of Covid and Brexit.
We now need Government to introduce a range of measures designed to support British manufacturers, like GKN and JLR, that will ensure these high-quality jobs remain in local communities for many years to come.