Unite, the UK’s leading automotive union, has welcomed news that Britishvolts’ Northumberland gigafactory will go ahead. The Britishvolt factory, being built on the site of the former Blyth power station, is great news for the region and could create up to 3,000 much needed jobs. 

But the union has warned that if the UK’s automotive sector is to transition successfully to electric vehicles, many more battery plants are needed.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite is in the process of negotiating an enabling agreement with Britishvolt for the factory, which is the best way to proceed with the project. However, six more battery plants, like Britishvolt, are needed if the UK is to retain a world class automotive sector that will spur the creation of thousands of decent jobs and help meet our climate obligations.”

Unite believes that these can only be created as part of an interventionist industrial strategy from the government, which so far seems to have been left entirely to the priorities of the market. What is needed is the integration of infrastructure, cell and battery production and vehicle manufacture. That is an essential element in the creation of a genuine planned industrial strategy for the UK. So far that is missing. 

Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Steve Turner said: “The Britishvolt factory is the kind of stimulus local economies and the UK’s manufacturing communities need to achieve Britain’s net zero carbon targets. Unite looks forward to working with Britishvolt to help ensure the success of the factory and further the best interests of its workers.”

ENDS

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