Unite media release

For immediate release: Monday 21 November 2022

Union leader blasts industry and government amid race to save auto jobs

A third of auto workers are ‘not confident’ that their workplace will survive the transition to electrification

Unite calls for risk register to protect jobs as part of programme for the green transition

The leader of Unite has slammed the automotive industry and the government for failing to prepare for the green transition.

Joint research from the University of Birmingham and Unite reveals that almost a third (29.2%) of auto workers are ‘not confident’ that their workplace will survive the transition to electrification.

Unite is calling for an effective “risk register” for the automotive sector. Industry and government have failed to identify the specific automotive jobs most at risk and to prepare support for the transition to equivalent roles.

There are over 700,000 jobs across the automotive industry. The SMMT warns that 22,000 jobs are at risk in the components supply chain. But if workers’ fears are borne out, as many as 200,000 jobs could be at risk if a third of workplaces close due to electrification. This uncertainty underlines a massive industry and government failing.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: There is a “black hole” in industry’s and government’s understanding of the auto supply chain. As a result thousands of jobs are on the line. This is avoidable. Unite is demanding that the industry and the government urgently puts in place an effective risk register.

Unite activists representing thousands of UK manufacturing workers’ are gathering in Birmingham this week to endorse a programme to defend manufacturing jobs.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “There is a race to save manufacturing jobs and any job won’t do. Too often the promise of new jobs comes with no commitment that they will be like-for-like replacements for jobs which are lost with union-recognised pay and conditions.

For Unite green manufacturing jobs means job security, quality of life, decent pay and conditions. That’s the goal and we are bringing shop stewards together to win it.”

The ILO define A Just Transition as a “greening the economy in a way that is as fair and inclusive as possible to everyone concerned, creating decent work opportunities and leaving no one behind.”

Unite shop stewards in the automotive industry are expected to endorse the following programme:

  • A commitment that every step of the green transition will be negotiated through collective bargaining


  • Comprehensive support for workers in the component supply chain. A register of firms to identify those most at risk, building UK supply capability for batteries and new components.


  • Realistic estimates for the numbers of new green jobs, the quality of those jobs, their likely locations and time-line.


  • Any UK public funding (i.e in R&D) must come with obligations for UK manufacturing.


  • Commitments to upskilling, education and training and how this will be provided by employers and government.


  • Commitments to protecting and extending trade union collective agreements and the ability to organise our workplace to secure a transition on workers’ terms.


Contact: Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315 

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Instagram: unitetheunion

Web: unitetheunion.org

Notes to editors: 

Unite is the leading union in the UK and Ireland, dedicated to defending and improving members' jobs, pay and conditions. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.