Speaking after the first meeting of the Honda taskforce held in Swindon today (Wednesday, 20 February) following the news that the carmaker plans to close the Swindon plant in 2021, Steve Turner, Unite assistant general secretary said:

"After yesterday's devastating news we pressed hard and really needed to hear that the UK government would be working as tirelessly as we will be to save this plant, its extended supply chain and the families and communities who rely upon it.

"We heard today that we will be given that support from the business secretary, Greg Clark MP and we will be taking him at his word on this.

"We need central government, local and regional authorities, as well as innovative supply chain partners to join us in developing a viable alternative plan that maintains both Honda in Swindon and the UK automotive industry as a jewel in the crown of UK manufacturing.

"In doing so, we will be sending a clear message back to Japan that we are not giving up on our plant and we will not let Honda give up on it either.

"And let's be clear on the scale of the economic and social catastrophe facing our communities if this plant closes. Not only would 3,500 jobs go directly at the plant, but some 15,000 more jobs are under threat at the dozens and dozens of small and medium firms necklaced across the country suppling only to Honda.

"So it is testimony to the spirit of our members that they turned up to today's meeting determined to show that we are not giving up the ghost.  The fight for a secure future began today.

"The united message out of today's event is that this plant can and should be at the core of an innovative transition from combustion engines to fuel cell and electrical propulsion.

"UK investment and R&D into next generation battery technology, coupled with the local manufacturing of power conversion systems and hydrogen capture, will transform our sector into a powerhouse for the emerging technologies that will shape this industry through the 2020s and well into the 2030s.

"This is the message we want to be heard in Japan and Unite will be joining government in a delegation to do just that.

"Honda, do not turn your back on this plant, its loyal, skilled workforce or the superb integrated supply chain.  Honda can thrive in the UK not just supplying European markets, but as a global leader exporting a world class product across the globe."

Formal consultations with the company on the future of the plant will commence tomorrow, Thursday 21 February.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Pauline Doyle on 07976 832 861

Email: Pauline.doyle@unitetheunion.org

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