Britain’s largest union, Unite said it would hold Melrose’s ‘feet to fire’ and be pressing the government to intervene on national defence grounds after it emerged GKN shareholders had narrowly accepted a hostile takeover bid from Melrose.
With approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) for the takeover still outstanding, Unite warned that the takeover was still not a done deal because of continuing concerns surrounding GKN’s role in the defence interests of the UK and its allies.
Unite GKN representatives will be meeting in the coming week to discuss the union’s next steps.
Unite assistant general secretary for aerospace Steve Turner said: “Unite will be holding Melrose’s ‘feet to the fire’ over concessions it has made in recent days and seeking concrete guarantees on job security, investment and future work in the UK.
“The takeover is far from a done deal though. National security concerns remain not just for the UK, but for the US too, where the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States is yet to approve the takeover and to whom Unite has made representations.
“With the UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson having expressed concern over the takeover’s impact on UK defence interests, we continue to urge business secretary Greg Clark to use his powers under the Enterprise Act and call it in on national defence grounds.
“This takeover has put into stark relief the inadequacy of the UK’s takeover rules which put the interests of short-term speculators over those of the workforce and long-term investors.
“We need an overhaul of UK takeover laws to strengthen the voice of stakeholders to ensure other British companies do not fall prey to corporate vultures looking to make a quick buck against the national interest.”
Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Tony Burke said: “It is deeply disappointing that shareholders, by the slimmest of margins, have put making a quick profit ahead of the long-term future of one of the UK’s most successful engineering companies.
“We have deep concern about Melrose’s short-term approach, which we believe could see the piecemeal break-up of GKN and undermine hopes of a coherent industrial strategy for the UK.
“Unite remains of the view that the concessions Melrose has given are inadequate and that question marks remain over whether they are enforceable. The onus is now on the business secretary Greg Clark to go further and step in.
“The government is on notice that these unwanted and corporate raids must come to an end. The Melrose bid for GKN was not about what is good for UK manufacturing it is about making a quick buck. The UK takeover laws need to reflect the views of the workforce and other stakeholders and should not allow a government minister to stand aside until the last minute and claim they cannot comment or cannot have a view.
“Melrose has work to do if it is to gain the trust and confidence of the GKN workforce. Over the coming days Unite will be seeking meetings with Melrose and consulting with our reps in GKN to hear their views and the views of members on the next steps.”
For further information please contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065 or Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
- 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.