GKN Birmingham workers balloted for strike

Workers at the GKN Automotive factory on Chester Road in Birmingham, owned by venture capitalists Melrose, are being balloted for strike action after the company confirmed its intention to close the factory.

Union Unite says that despite the factory’s “critical importance to the electrification of the UK’s automotive industry giving it a positive and profitable future”, the company is pressing ahead with plans to close it by 2022.

In May, company bosses rejected an alternative business proposal put forward by a coalition of GKN workers, the factory’s senior management, Unite officials and local politicians, including MP Jack Dromey.

Unite will be balloting its members at the factory, which employs 500 people and produces car drivelines, for strike action.

The ballot will open next Monday and close on 31 August.

Unite national officer Des Quinn said: “When Melrose bought GKN in 2018, there were howls of protest when fears were raised that the new owners could asset strip the company.

“Melrose’s current actions will make many people believe their assurances to GKN’s shareholders that the opposite was true were empty words.

“Melrose has every opportunity to keep this factory open, including a viable alternative business model, promises of support from government and a crucial role to play in the electrification of the auto industry.

“It is certainly not the actions of a company that vowed, when taking over GKN, to establish a ‘UK manufacturing powerhouse’.

“Instead, it looks like the actions of a company committed to short term profit hikes at the expense of business longevity and sustainability.”

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