Automotive Industries - key issues

The Automotive sector is of crucial importance to the wider manufacturing sector, it is also vital to the economy of the UK as a whole through the high level of exported vehicles and its contribution to annual GDP. Around 2,350 UK companies regard themselves as supplying components the motor industry in the UK. The sector is undergoing significant growth and investment after a very precarious period, and with the continued growth of emerging markets in the Far East, Russia, and South America the motori ndustry continues to buck the manufacturing trend by growing year on year. There is potential growth for the union in the sector with the expansion of the UK automotive industry and the return of components production and manufacture to the UK.

Corridor hours / flexible working
Many companies find it hard to compete with low cost labour in Eastern Europe and the Far East, this is never an easy decision to make but Unite has helped achieve valuable long term investment without affecting terms and conditions by working with companies to introduce working time agreements that minimise the effects on family life.

Agency workers
There is continuing use of agency labour in the sector, therefore the Agency Workers Directive is very important. Unite opposes the introduction of the ‘Swedish derogation’ which is used to undermine the legislation designed to give equal pay to agency workers after 12 weeks, Unite has fought hard to resist this and been very successful in companies with high union density, however some smaller companies continue to exploit this loophole.

New starter rates
Unfortunately this is now becoming the norm in most industries including the automotive sector, Unite however has agreed starter rates that eventually lead to equal pay, this is vitally important if we are to prevent employers using low pay to bring down current rates in the future.

Organising in the automotive sector is vital to all manufacturing jobs as the automotive Industry has for decades led the way in enhancing equal pay, diversity, family friendly policies, holidays and sick pay. It’s often said what happens in the Automotive sector, the rest of manufacturing follows and as such the whole manufacturing sector relies on strong union density in Automotive. However There are many companies in the second and third tier of suppliers and manufacturers where unions are not organised. Winning new members and organisations in these companies is a priority.

Many companies persist in closing pension schemes down, either to new starters or altogether. Unite is leading the fight to protect what will become a vital source of income in retirement.

Visteon Pension Action Group
On April 30, 2009 Visteon UK was put into administration, resulting in over 600 job losses and the collapse of the UK pension fund. Over 3000 pension fund members, many with 30+ years service, have seen significant reductions in their pensions - some over 50%. This is all despite promises made by Ford Motor Company that employee pensions would be "safe" in the transfer to Visteon - read what they were promised here. The Visteon Pension Action Group (VPAG) has been fighting for over 3 years and its battle against Ford to win back their pensions is told on the VPAG website.

Andrew Belch & others v Ford Motor Company Ltd
A Group Litigation Order (GLO) has been made.
All questions regarding the GLO should be referred to Kate Fox at Thompsons Solicitors on 020 7290 0054 who have been appointed as lead solicitors in the case.