Another Brexit-fuelled blow to the embattled UK car industry came today (February 18) after reports emerged that automotive manufacturer Honda may be planning to close its plant in Swindon by 2022, risking 3,500 jobs.
Unite is seeking urgent meetings with Honda management for clarification and called for business secretary Greg Clark to make a statement on the situation.
The Japanese car firm’s Swindon plant is its only plant in the EU, where it produces well over 100,000 Honda Civics.
Unite national officer for the automotive sector Des Quinn said that if today’s reports were confirmed, “this would be a shattering body blow at the heart of UK manufacturing.
“The car industry in the UK over the last two decades has been the jewel in the crown for the manufacturing sector – and now it has been brought low by the chaotic Brexit uncertainty created by the rigid approach adopted by prime minister Theresa May,” he added.
“We are seeking urgent clarification from Honda on the implications of these serious reports,” Quinn went on to say.
“The 3,500-strong workforce do skilled, well paid jobs that the UK can ill-afford to lose.
He added that Unite will be doing everything it can to support members, their families and the economy in the coming days and weeks and he highlighted that the potential closure will “affect thousands of jobs in the extensive supply chain across the country.
“This would be the single biggest automotive closure since Rover in 2005,” Quinn warned as he called on business secretary Greg Clark to make an “urgent statement on what the government intends to do to rectify this dire situation, if reports prove correct.
“It appears that the chickens are coming home to roost big-time because of Brexit uncertainty. If the government had advance warning of this dreadful news and did not alert the unions, this is an appalling and cavalier attitude by ministers.”
Commenting on the media speculation, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey tweeted, “Very grave news emerging about Honda in Swindon”, adding that Unite would be “seeking urgent clarification of the situation. It is disgraceful that yet again hard-working, loyal workers hear fearful rumours about their futures via the media.”
Reports of the potential announcement of the Honda Swindon plant closure come as a number of manufacturing firms have announced changes to production in the UK amid continuing Brexit uncertainty.
Just last week (February 13) it was reported that Ford had told prime minister Theresa May during a telephone call with business leaders that it was preparing alternative sites abroad.
The latest warning from Ford comes just a week after Nissan announced that it would break with plans to produce its new X-Trail model in Sunderland and instead move production to Japan.
The announcements reflect a gloomy picture for manufacturing in the UK, with the ONS saying last week that a fall in car, steel and other manufacturing output, along with a decrease in Christmas high street spending, resulted in a 0.4 per cent decrease in the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) between November and December.