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GKN to axe 500 jobs in closure of ‘no longer viable’ car parts plant

Written by on 28/01/2021

Manufacturing giant GKN is to close a car parts factory with the loss of more than 500 jobs, blaming an “increasingly competitive” global market.

The company, bought by turnaround specialist Melrose in an £8bn hostile takeover in 2018, supplies components to UK vehicle makers including Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover.

It has launched a consultation on the closure of the site in Birmingham – which GKN has owned since the 1960s – putting 519 jobs at risk.

The announcement comes on the same day as industry figures showing UK car production had fallen to its lowest level since 1984 last year – blamed largely on disruption and depressed demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesman said: “Proposing this closure is a difficult decision which has been made despite significant effort and investment over the past 10 years to reduce the high operating costs at the Birmingham assembly site.

“Sadly, an increasingly competitive global market means that the site is no longer viable.”

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Trade union Unite said it had been told the factory would close in 18 months.

National officer Des Quinn said: “The workforce have been left shocked and angry to learn that management is looking to close this highly viable site.”

Jack Dromey, Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington, said: “Melrose promised a bright future to GKN’s employees – a promise they have now broken.

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March 2018: GKN takeover ‘a bleak day’ for industry

“Government ministers also have a responsibility to act after promises they made at the time of the hostile takeover.”

GKN played down the possibility that Brexit was a factor in the proposal to close the plant.

Car maker Nissan, recently said that the UK’s deal with the EU was positive for its business as it committed to making electric vehicle batteries at its Sunderland plant – though it subsequently announced that it was axing 160 office-based jobs.

GKN has already warned that its aircraft parts division faces significant job cuts after the pandemic drove the aviation sector to a standstill.

 Sky News

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