Workers at a closure-threatened engineering plant in Birmingham have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action.
Staff at GKN Automotive in Chester Road, Erdington, are preparing to fight the company’s plans to close the factory and transfer work overseas.
The closure of the site – which makes drivelines for the UK’s automotive industry – would result in the loss of more than 500 jobs and apprenticeships.
Now 95 per cent of those balloted have voted in favour of strike action in a last-ditch attempt to prevent the factory closure in 2022.
And union representatives at Unite are calling on interested parties, including the government, local politicians and GKN’s customers – such as JLR, Toyota and Nissan – to reach an agreement on future production and support.
A failure to reach agreement could see strike action hit the plant and customers over the coming weeks.
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “This is a tremendous result and shows the determination and confidence of the GKN workforce to fight for their jobs, their community and the long-term future of their plant.
“This is a highly viable plant which could and should be playing a leading role as the UK moves to the electrification of its automotive sector.
“It is now incumbent that everyone concerned with the future of GKN Driveline including customers, the government, local politicians and GKN’s parent company Melrose PLC, come together to hammer out a future for the plant and the UK’s supply of key components.
“The alternative is a long drawn-out dispute that will damage both GKN and the company’s customer base.
“We have called an urgent meeting of all parties involved and expect both GKN, its customer base, as well as the government, to respond positively to a viable alternative plan to secure the plant’s future.
“The ball is now firmly in GKN and Melrose’s court and how they respond will dictate how this dispute will develop over the coming weeks and months.”
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In January, GKN announced that it was looking to close the “no longer viable” factory and move production overseas.
It launched a consultation with its 519 employees who later put alternative proposals forward to the company, but the plans were rejected.
A spokesman for GKN Automotive said: “GKN Automotive is disappointed by the result of the ballot but respects the right of our colleagues to take legitimate industrial action. However, this does not change our difficult decision to close the Erdington plant.”
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