Unite conference - manufacturing workers demand a Brex...

Unite conference - manufacturing workers demand a Brexit for jobs

31 January 2017

Hundreds of thousands of jobs in the north west hang in the balance as PM rules out single market membership

Workers from leading companies across the north west will gather in Liverpool for a conference on Thursday (2 February) specially convened by Unite, the UK’s biggest manufacturing union, to press for more support for the sector from the government as the country moves towards Brexit.

The conference follows Unite’s repeated warnings that the government must secure tariff-free access to the EU single market. Failure to do so will deal a body blow to industry and throw hundreds of thousands of jobs into jeopardy. 

According to the New Economy Manchester report, manufacturing and its supply chain supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across the north west region generating more jobs and wealth in the region than for any other within the UK. 

In total, there are just over 323,000 manufacturing employees in the north west, the highest figure for any UK region, with each worker in the sector adding approximately £51,000 per employee every year to the region’s economy, far beyond the national average of £35,000 per employee across all sectors of the economy.

The union claims that these jobs will be put at risk in a ‘hard’ Brexit process, and that the much-touted industrial strategy will not produce the government investment needed for manufacturing to deal with the seismic economic shock brought about by life outside of the EU.

Unite’s conference is the first in its campaign to bring together its members around the common objectives of safeguarding jobs and rights. 

While voters in Blackpool and Preston voted to leave the EU, voters in the north west’s main cities of Liverpool and Manchester did not vote for Brexit; neither community should see their living standards fall in a deal that favours the City of London over the industrial heartlands.

Unite has repeatedly appealed to the government to look at sensible ways to address concerns around freedom of movement without destroying vital industry links to the market for millions of customers across the 27 European nations.

Attendees at the conference will hear from Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, who speaking ahead of the conference, said: “As the country moves to the European Union exit door, there is much to be concerned about in the government’s approach. We have heard little of detail about what the government is planning – what we have heard is heightening fears that working class jobs and rights will be sacrificed by a party more interested in the City of London than the people of the north west.

“Unite members in the north west, and indeed across manufacturing, urgently need to hear that the markets upon which their jobs depend will not be closed off as the prime minister seeks to appease a zealous right-wing Tory party.

“The message that will come back from this conference is that working class jobs and communities must not pay the price for Brexit. 

“This union, together with our members across the sector, will fight every step of the way to retain access to the vital single market. People voted to leave the EU – they did not vote to be out of work.”

Delegates will also hear about the potential impact on working people’s employment and human rights of a Conservative Brexit, and what a trade deal that works for working class communities could look like.

The conference, which will be at Holiday Inn Hotel, Lime Street, Liverpool L1 1NQ, will be closed to the media, but members of the media are invited to speak to Len McCluskey.

Unite represents 500,000 members within manufacturing sectors including aerospace, automotive, chemicals and ship building industries across the UK, including around 40,000 in the north west alone.


Notes to editors:

Manufacturing employment:

•    In total there are just over 323,000 manufacturing employees in the north west, the highest figure for any UK region
•    As a whole, manufacturing is a major generator of wealth for the north west, generating gross value added (GVA) per employee of approximately £51,000 per employee per annum. (This was higher than the national average of £35,000 per employee across all sectors)

Source: New Economy Manchester Report

For interviews with Len McCluskey please contact Unite communications officer Karen Viquerat on 07768 931 316 or 0151 559 2003.  

  • 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.