Hundreds of workers at a Sunderland based car parts manufacturer, supplying Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover, are celebrating after winning their campaign for trade union recognition with Unite, Britain and Ireland’s biggest union.

Following almost a year of campaigning at the Lear Corporation in Houghton le Spring, the workers have been informed that they now have a legal right to trade union recognition after the government’s Conciliation Arbitration Committee (CAC) ruled that Unite had a majority of workers in membership. The company and Unite have now entered into a 30 day period to reach a formal agreement to negotiate collectively on behalf of the 370 strong workforce.

Unite already had recognition at Lear Corporation at its sites in Coventry, Redditch and Alfreton in Derbyshire but the company had a weaker staff council at its factory in Sunderland. The workforce at Sunderland had a number of issues around poor working practices, they felt that the company was not interested in their opinion and needed a strong union in order to have an effective voice at work.

The workers, supported by Unite’s organising department, began a campaign in April 2019. After months of determined campaigning and growing membership, amid company resistance, the union applied to the CAC to request it formally ruled on Unite’s right to recognition. On 13 January the CAC declared that Unite has a legal right to negotiate on behalf of all hourly paid shop floor workers, maintenance and team leaders in the just-in-time & foam facilities at the company.

Unite regional officer Mike Routledge said: “Workers at the Sunderland based car parts manufacturer have won their campaign for trade union rights at Lear Corporation.

“The workforce needed an effective voice at work. They could see no reason why other sites in the UK had Unite negotiating on the workers’ behalf but they didn’t. Despite resistance from management, the workforce with the support of Unite’s organising department, built a union and we look forward to being an effective voice for hundreds of workers at the factory in Houghton le Spring.”

Lear set up in Sunderland in 2011 to create its first UK foam manufacturing facility for vehicle seating. The company supplies both Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover. Lear is a US owned components company with employees across 39 countries worldwide.


Unite is a union that campaigns for and delivers better pay and conditions for its members. Unite is winning at work based on three core values. Secure Work: fighting for jobs and job security, Strong Voice: a union which is a respected voice at work and Decent Pay: a union focused on pay and conditions.

For more information contact Ciaran Naidoo 07768 931 315

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.