Unite manufacturing reps call for no-deal Brexit to be taken off the table

Tory Brexit tactics are destroying the UK’s world-class manufacturing base, workers’ representatives from leading companies have warned.

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Unite workplace representatives from factories across the country met in Birmingham this week to consider the dangers threatening their industries from the ‘no-deal’ Brexit being risked by the government, and the jobs being imperilled by continuing uncertainty.

They reported that this uncertainty is paralysing investment and driving some manufacturers to set up ‘mirror’ operations in European Union countries – which will see the work of UK companies transfer to bases within the EU – in advance of the UK crashing out of Europe with a bad or no deal. They also reported that there is no mood for a second referendum among the Unite members that they represent.

What manufacturing needs, the meeting agreed, is a clear rejection of a ‘no-deal’ departure from the EU and a strong commitment to a customs union with Europe that can keep trade and supply chains intact.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, who led the meeting, said today (February 26),“This is now the eleventh hour for tens of thousands of jobs in manufacturing and in the communities that depend on a strong industrial base.

“Our workplace convenors speak for 350,000 workers on the shop floor,” he added. “They are saying loud and clear that the Tories’ mishandling of Brexit is already being felt in the winding down of operations and the refusal of businesses to commit to future investment.

“They see the prime minister running down the clock in order to give her deal a chance of making it through parliament, saving her job in the short-term but imperilling hundreds of thousands of others.

“No deal must come off the table now, and we need those cabinet ministers and MPs seeking to avert that disaster to have the courage of their convictions and step up,” McCluskey went on to say.

“We desperately need a customs union to preserve our enduring trading arrangements and I urge Mrs May to reconsider her red line on that issue.

“MPs should this week seize the chance offered by Labour’s proposals to honour the referendum result by leaving on terms that protect our economic interests and jobs. They should back Jeremy Corbyn’s plan and bring the uncertainty to an end.

“Only Labour is putting the country first,” McCluskey noted. “Jacob Rees-Mogg and the like are delusional if they believe their no-deal Brexit won’t shut down factories and devastate industry. They clearly don’t live in the real world.

“We cannot back no-deal or a bad deal that destroys jobs, so let’s support Labour’s jobs-first Brexit plan.”

The Unite manufacturing meeting was attended by officials in all the main manufacturing sectors spanning automotive, aerospace, food, packaging, chemicals, pharmaceutical and steel representing more than 350,000 workers.

Those present came from the main blue chip manufacturers in the country, including GlaxoSmithKline, Toyota, Nissan, BMW, Unilever, Rolls Royce, Jaguar Land Rover, Vauxhall, Airbus, Siemens, Safran, Ford and associated companies throughout the supply chain.