I wanted to give you an update on the situation with GKN, as we look to save this historic plant from closure.
Last week, the GKN workforce voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action. The workers demonstrated their commitment to fighting closure by voting yes by a 93.1% margin on a 95% turnout.
But it did not have to be like this.
Ever since Melrose announced in January they were planning to close the Chester Road plant, the workforce, their trade union Unite, and myself have been working on saving the 519 highly-skilled jobs.
We quickly managed to secure debates in Parliament, meetings with Government Ministers, and held rallies in opposition, but to no avail. The workforce, along with Unite, also presented an alternative, viable business plan to Melrose, but they rejected it out of hand with little consideration. This was yet another sign that Melrose have absolutely no intention of engaging meaningfully in discussions over the future of GKN.
We are continually making the case to Government that they need to intervene to stop the closure. Losing the GKN plant would not only be a blow to the workers, their families and their local community, but it would also be a betrayal of the national interest.
At just the time when we are looking to increase our domestic manufacturing capacity, the closure of GKN would see these highly skilled jobs be exported to mainland Europe. It would send a terrible message to the rest of the UK’s manufacturing sector if this is allowed to happen.
The Government seem to be open to our case. During a Westminster Hall debate, Business Minister, Amanda Solloway, declared that the Government was prepared to consider alternative proposals to closure “that could include investments in capital equipment or in the skills needed to secure future vehicle technology”.
Furthermore, following representations Unite and I made, the Government attempted to convene talks over the future of the plant, which Melrose flatly refused to attend.
However, whilst these steps are welcome, we need Government to go much further.
Warm words are not enough. If Melrose continue to refuse to engage then we need Ministers to take action and intervene. They have said they are open to the possibility of investing in the plant, now they must explore that possibility to the fullest.
Furthermore, Melrose’s lack of engagement, and their seemingly unwavering determination to close the plant, has left the workforce with no choice but to take industrial action.
Over the coming weeks, the workforce and Unite will meet to discuss when this will take place. I will keep you fully informed with any updates.
The battle to save GKN is now moving to its next stage. We will not give up on our attempts to save this plant, and the jobs of the 519 people who work there. I am 101% behind the workers!
Going forward, your support will be crucial. Our community must stand together and oppose the closure of GKN, which has stood at the heart of Erdington for over 50 years. So please do look out for further updates and ways you can get involved in this monumental battle.
Jack Dromey, MP for Birmingham Erdington