|Volume 51 Number 6, February 20, 2021||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
GKN has announced the closure of their Driveline factory in Chester Road, Erdington, Birmingham with the loss of 519 jobs. This comes three years after the hostile takeover of GKN by the so-called "venture capitalists", Melrose Industries, and two years after the announced closure of another GKN factory in Kings Norton, Birmingham, with the loss of about 170 jobs.
GKN is one of Britain's oldest engineering firms and the Driveline factory makes parts for Jaguar Land Rover and other automotive companies. The 500-plus workforce at the factory were left shocked and fearing for their future when the company announced at the end of last month that the plant was set for closure, with its work being transferred to other sites in Europe. Melrose's purchase of GKN was highly controversial at the time. In response to fears that GKN was going to be asset-stripped, Melrose promised shareholders and investors that it would establish a "UK manufacturing powerhouse".
Unite national officer Des Quinn said: "The bottom line is that the Chester Road factory is a highly viable site and Unite is committed to pursuing every option to keep it open. Sadly, Melrose/GKN is acting in the manner that those opposed to its takeover feared, closing viable plants and ditching workers to boost profits. Its promise to create a UK manufacturing powerhouse now appears at best misleading or at worst a direct lie. Thankfully, with an 18-month window before the factory closes, Unite is hoping to develop a watertight business case guaranteeing the factory's future. The union will be creating a coalition of workers, the local community, business groups, local politicians and others to secure the future of the Chester Road site. Unite is open to talks with GKN and is prepared to discuss all options to ensure the future of the Chester Road factory."
Jaguar Land Rover
In further news, there are fears that Jaguar Land Rover itself could end manufacturing at its Castle Bromwich plant in Birmingham. JLR has warned workers that 2,000 staff are to lose their jobs over the next 12 months. The shock news came days after the company said it would be "streamlining" the non-manufacturing side of its business. According to reports, the luxury vehicle manufacturer - which announced on February 15 that it would become an all-electric car maker by 2030 - had launched a "full review" into the structure of the firm and that they "need to reduce the cost base to achieve a lean foundation". JLR has said that those workers affected are not "hourly paid manufacturing colleagues".
One JLR worker told how the hope was that 2021 would be a fresh start after the pandemic. Instead, workers' worst fears are set to become the reality. Should the workers and their union organise to oppose this imposition of job cuts without so much as a consultation with the workers, it is certain that they will have the support of workers throughout the industry.
The present owner of Jaguar Land Rover is the global cartel Tata Motors, and it is threatening the whole future of JLR. The cruel joke that the company is attempting to play on the workers is to say that it will "create a flatter structure designed to empower employees to create and deliver at speed and with a clear purpose". A fine way to empower workers by axing their livelihoods!
Workers cannot accept that the solution to whatever commercial problems Tata claims the company faces, or its move to focus on electric cars, is cuts in workforce, wrecking of the manufacturing base, or in any other way treating the workers as expendable. Tata's narrow private interests must not be the determining factor, and workers must organise to block these attacks on workers' rights, working to become the decision-making authority and change the direction of the economy as the solution.