Manufacturing workers demand new prime minister takes no deal Brexit off the table, saying ‘our jobs matter’

‘Our jobs and our communities matter’ will be the message from Unite manufacturing shop stewards from across the UK when they travel to parliament on Wednesday (24 July) to meet MPs and demand that the new prime minister takes a no deal Brexit off the table.

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Unite representatives from major manufacturers including Airbus, British Steel, BMW, GKN, Jaguar Land Rover and Rolls-Royce will unfurl a big banner at 11:00 opposite the Houses of Parliament at Old Palace Yard in a photo call. They will then enter parliament to brief MPs on the ‘catastrophic’ impact a no deal Brexit will have on the livelihoods of the members they represent and the industries in which they work.

Wednesday’s photo call and briefing for MPs comes as just 45 per cent of Unite reps believe their employer has Brexit contingencies in place. This initial finding is part of an ongoing survey alongside a series of in-depth interviews with Unite workplace representatives working across all of the UK’s industrial sectors.

The full findings are expected to be published in September, but also initially point to a significant number of employers exploiting Brexit uncertainty. Thirty four per cent of reps taking part in the research report employers using Brexit to either delay or reduce pay deals, hire agency workers over full-time employment or remove reps’ involvement in European works councils.

Commenting Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Steve Turner said: “A no deal Brexit will be an economic and personal catastrophe for hundreds of thousands of skilled manufacturing workers, their families and communities.

“It will compound the Brexit uncertainty that has already gripped UK manufacturing and throw synchronised, ‘just in time’ processes that our major manufacturers rely on into turmoil. UK workers will be left at a competitive disadvantage and working with both hands behind their back.

“The destruction of our manufacturing sector may be a ‘price worth paying’ in the pursuit of an ideologically pure Brexit for ‘hard’ brexiteers, or a gamble the new prime minister thinks worth playing in a game of Brexit roulette.

“But it is real jobs and real livelihoods at stake, along with the future of sectors such as steel making, car manufacturing, chemicals, paper and aerospace.

“With Unite reps across the economy reporting fewer than half of their companies have made contingencies for Brexit and a significant portion reporting firms trying to exploit Brexit uncertainty at the expense of their workforces, it is time for the Brexit chaos to come to an end.

“The new prime minister needs to come to places like Southampton where the port employs 15,000 people and handles 60 per cent of car components in addition to over two million containers every year, and tell them how his plan secures their jobs. Come to the communities in the Midlands that depend on Jaguar Land Rover, Toyota and Rolls-Royce for work, or British Steel in Scunthorpe and look these people in the eye and tell them he will not send them to the dole queue.

“The message from our manufacturing shop stewards who represent over half a million workers is clear. Our jobs and our communities matter, the new prime minister must take no deal off the table and get a deal with the European Union that secures frictionless trade and tariff free access with Europe.”