Govt’s “landmark” deal with auto industry must go further to head off Brexit danger, Unite warns

Unite has said a “landmark” deal between the government and the automotive industry must “go further” to head off Brexit uncertainty.

The deal, announced by business and energy secretary Gregg Clark, consists of joint investment and far-reaching commitments between government and industry, focusing on areas such as autonomous vehicles, battery technologies and the manufacture of low and zero emission vehicles.

The government is ploughing £26.4m into the scheme, investment that will be equalled by industry to total £52.8m for flagship low emission projects involving Ford, GKN and Jaguar Land Rover.

The deal also includes up to £32m of new joint funding for an industry-led programme to increase UK supply chain competitiveness.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said the union welcomed any new investment in the UK’s “world class car industry” but warned it was not enough.

“Against a backdrop of continued Brexit uncertainty and job losses at Ellesmere Port, we demand that the government goes further. We need a proper long-term plan for the automotive sector with union involvement that includes a ‘just transition’ plan for workers in the diesel and the traditional supply chain,” Burke said.

“If the UK’s automotive sector is to retain its world leading status, then government must do more to support firms in the supply chain so they can re-tool, re-invest and re-skill workers for the next generation of components.”

He added, “In the coming weeks Unite will be publishing our sector plan for electric vehicles along with a plan for diesel and emissions.”