Members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, employed at the GKN Drivelines factory in Erdington Birmingham, have announced that they will begin all out continuous strike action later this month, as part of their ongoing battle to keep the factory open. All out continuous strikes will begin on Monday 27 September.

Jobs under threat

In January the parent company Melrose GKN announced that the factory, which makes drivelines for much of the UK’s automotive sector, would close in 2022 with the loss of over 500 jobs, with the work being offshored to Poland and France.

Earlier this month Unite announced that its members had recorded a 95 per cent yes vote in favour of strike action. 

Ongoing battle

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: GKN’s cynical attempt to close its Erdrington plant is a disgrace. We will not stand by and let this employer offshore British jobs without a fight.  We will leave no stone unturned in the ongoing battle to ensure the future of the Birmingham factory and our members.”

The union initially delayed issuing strike action and instead arranged a meeting with all interested parties to reach agreement on future production and support. However Melrose GKN refused to attend the meeting after initially accepting an invitation to do so.

As a consequence Unite had no option but to initiate strike action.

Parts shortages

Due to the ‘just in time’ nature of the automotive industry supply chain, strike action will very quickly affect production at several of the UK’s car plants, primarily Jaguar Land Rover, but Nissan and Toyota will also be heavily affected.

The GKN Driveline factory should be primed to be playing a key role in the electrification of the UK’s automotive sector, building the new propulsion units needed in electric vehicles.

Taxpayers' money

Unite understands that Melrose GKN has received millions of pounds of taxpayers money for research and development at its centre in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

Unite believes that if Melrose GKN is not going to employ UK workers in the areas in manufacturing where it is developing new technology, then not only should all UK government support be frozen, but previous money that the company has received should be repaid.

Betrayal of workers

Unite national officer Des Quinn said: “Melrose GKN has grave questions to answer, if it has taken government money for research and development and now intends to use what it has developed abroad, that is a betrayal of the workforce, a betrayal of Birmingham and a betrayal of UK taxpayers.”

Controversial takeover

Since 2018 GKN has been owned by venture capitalists Melrose. Melrose’s purchase of GKN was highly controversial. In response to fears that GKN was going to be asset stripped, it promised shareholders and investors that it would establish a ‘UK manufacturing powerhouse’.


Notes to editors:

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.