Lack of flood defence spending in Leeds is sabotaging the plan for the so-called ‘northern powerhouse’, as nearly 100 skilled workers lose their jobs after Boxing Day floods.
Unite, the country’s largest union, is blaming the government’s cut-back in flood expenditure in Leeds for the flooding of ThyssenKrupp Woodhead Leeds which, in turn, has led to the announcement that the site will now close with the loss of 93 jobs.
Unite is calling on the management of the German-owned company, which make springs and coils for the automotive industry, to relocate within the city.
Unite and Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn are asking questions why the government decided not to go ahead with a full flood defence scheme for Leeds in 2011.
Unite regional officer Richard Bedford said: “This is a classic case of the government cut-backs sabotaging another government policy that of the so-called ‘northern powerhouse’.
“This ‘powerhouse’ will become a mirage and a fleeting figment of chancellor’s George Osborne’s imagination, if there is not sufficient investment in infrastructure.
“The Kirkstall Road-based company has announced the closure due to the flood that caused damage to machinery on Boxing Day. There are up to 93 skilled workers that will lose their jobs.
“There is talk of these jobs now being done in eastern Europe – this loss of skilled engineering workers from the UK must be resisted.
“We will try and persuade the company to reinvest and relocate in Leeds, as by doing this they will have access to the key skills their 93 employees will continue to provide.
“This is a profitable site which makes this news even harder to take.
“When the factory flooded on Boxing Day, our members did all they could to assist with the clean-up, despite the horrific conditions. Now when loyalty is requested, in return, they are kicked in the teeth.
“Already other businesses have closed in the same area and if the government had not reduced the funding for the flood defences in 2011 this wouldn't have happened.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.