Unite, the UK’s largest union representing car workers, described a £106 million funding package for the research and development of zero-emission vehicles as ‘chicken feed.’

The funding, set to be announced by prime minister Theresa May at the Zero Emission Vehicle Summit today (Tuesday 11 September), is part of a package to help meet a target for UK roads to be free of petrol and diesel cars by 2050.

Commenting Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: “Prime minister Theresa May is all for making big promises about electric vehicles ahead of party conference season, but if she's going to put her money where her mouth is and maintain the automotive sector's world beating position, then it's going to take more than this chicken feed.

“This is token funding with the hope the market will do the rest. The automotive sector and the hundreds of thousands of skilled jobs that rely on it desperately need a serious, long-term strategy for a just transition from combustion engines to electric vehicles. We are miles behind the US, Germany and China.

“The government needs to answer the big questions. How will it help increase take up of electric vehicles? There are 40 million cars on our roads. If they were all electric vehicles how would they be powered if we’re not also investing in energy generation?

“How will talent be retained and employment secured for the 78,000 workers across the automotive supply chain? How will government support the development of manufacturing capability, most importantly battery production, recycling and on the road replacements.

“Any serious strategy needs to include a just transition from diesel and petrol combustion engines to electric. That means supporting re-skilling and upskilling for workers where needed, and developing new skills - but also ensuring that Euro6 compliant clean diesel remains part of the long-term transition for years to come.”


For more information please contact Alex Flynn Unite head of media and campaigns on 07967 665869 alex.flynn@unitetheunion.org

Notes to editors:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.