GKN today announced the closure of its Chester Road plant, putting 519 jobs at risk and an end to over 50 years of history at the site
Three years on from the hostile takeover of British manufacturing firm GKN by Melrose Industries, GKN management have today announced the closure of the GKN Driveline plant on Chester Road, Birmingham. The decision follows just two years after the closure of GKN’s Aerospace plant in Kings Norton.
After promises made by Melrose during the takeover bid to make GKN a ‘British manufacturing powerhouse’, today’s announcement was completely unexpected by the workforce, with one describing it as a ‘bolt out of the blue’. Indeed, workers’ trade unions had until recently been in discussions with the management of GKN about boosting investment into the Chester Road plant.
GKN Driveline is a world-class producer for the automotive industry and one of the biggest suppliers into car plants across the West Midlands, specialising in the production of driveshafts and prop shafts. The firm’s history dates back over 260 years, with GKN having produced cannonballs used at the Battle of Waterloo and parts for Spitfires used in the Battle of Britain. The Chester Road plant has been in operation for over half a century and once produced parts for the original Mini Cooper.
Jack Dromey, MP for Birmingham, Erdington, said:
“Despite all the warm words by Melrose in 2018 to protect the future prosperity of GKN and its British workforce, the cold reality three years on is that one of GKN’s finest plants now faces closure. Melrose promised a bright future to GKN’s employees – a promise they have now broken.
“This announcement is completely unexpected by employees at GKN. Working together with their trade union, Unite, I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the company.
“Government Minister’s also have a responsibility to act after promises they made at the time of the hostile takeover. The then Prime Minister, Theresa May, promised me on the floor of the House of Commons that the Government would always act in the UK national interest. We now face the potential of British workers seeing their jobs move abroad to one of GKN’s many continental plants.
“If this Government means what is says when it aims to level up our country, this must start here and now with an urgent solution being found to keep the plant open.”