Yeovil GKN jobs being thrown onto the funeral pyre

Yeovil GKN jobs being ‘thrown onto the funeral pyre of corporate greed’, says Unite

14 November 2016

The top management proposing 221 job losses at the Yeovil GKN plant, which makes airframes for helicopters, was accused of ‘supercilious behaviour’ in its treatment of the workforce.

Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Monday 14 November) that the management’s attitude during the redundancy consultation had been ‘poor’ – and the union had now registered ‘a failure to agree’, the precursor for an industrial action ballot.

Unite regional officer Heathcliffe Pettifer has written, again, to GKN Aerostructures (Europe and Asia) CEO John Pritchard asking for an explanation for the proposed job losses announced last month.

The GKN workers make airframes for Italian-owned Leonardo Helicopters - formerly AgustaWestland which is on the same site – and speculation is hardening that Leonardo wants to take the work back ‘in house’.

In his letter, Heathcliffe Pettifer wrote: “Redundancy consultation at Yeovil has again been poor, resulting in the union reps reluctantly registering ‘a failure to agree’.

“It seems, again, the union is not being taken seriously. This kind of supercilious behaviour from an employer, in respect of such a serious issue, is unacceptable.

“The questions I put to you four weeks ago remain unanswered and have not been addressed during consultation.”

Heathcliffe Pettifer said that the Yeovil workforce are ‘decent hardworking and loyal employees’, and deserve to know what lies ahead for them, even if this does include site’s closure.

Commenting on the next steps, Heathcliffe Pettifer said: “Unite has written, yet again, to John Pritchard. The failure of the company to engage in a constructive manner means that we will be considering holding an industrial action ballot.

“Such a ballot would show that this excellent workforce will not walk quietly into the jobless night, without making a strong protest against throwing these highly skilled manufacturing jobs onto the funeral pyre of corporate greed.”

The questions that Unite said that it has not received satisfactory answers to over the last month were:

•    why Leonardo made the decision to take the work ‘in house’, or when GKN was first made aware of Leonardo’s intentions?

•    whether a significant order placed now at GKN in Yeovil would immediately change the situation?

•    why GKN has been unsuccessful in securing other work, despite tendering for contracts separate to those for Leonardo?

In the summer, Leonardo lost out to Boeing in its bid to gain the majority of the work for the latest generation of Apache attack helicopters for the British army.

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.