With figures out today (Thursday 30 May) from the motor manufacturing trade body (SMMT) revealing that UK vehicle production has declined for the eleventh successive month, the country's leading manufacturing union, Unite, has blamed Brexit uncertainty and diminishing consumer confidence for the drop. 

The union is calling upon the government to arrest the decline by moving swiftly to support the sector, which employs around 850,000 skilled workers, and for Tory leadership candidates to stop playing ‘dangerous electoral games with people's jobs’ by threatening a no-deal Brexit.

Responding Steve Turner, Unite's assistant general secretary for manufacturing said: "Today's figures do not come as a huge surprise given early production shutdowns across the industry in preparation for customs' chaos following our threatened no-deal departure from the EU on 29 March. 

“But there is continued chaos and uncertainty amid on-going threats of a second no-deal departure on 31 October which will simply delay or divert desperately needed investment decisions, causing further anxiety across the auto sector, its workforce, supply chain and communities.

"They reflect the very real impact of a long-term absence of joined-up strategy from the government when it comes to understanding the issues confronting the automotive sector; its transition to new technologies, electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles, added to the impact of grinding austerity on disposable income and consumer confidence, and the chronic uncertainty that accompanies the Tories' Brexit shambles.

"Of course things could and should be very different. There are exciting new opportunities for the auto sector arising from technological advances and environmental challenges.  However, there is a very real danger that the UK misses this boat because this government is incapable to seizing the day.

“It will be a travesty for the economy and a betrayal of a workforce that has positioned the sector as the jewel in the crown of UK manufacturing if we see our jobs go to competitor countries where those governments get the importance of their role in underpinning their manufacturing industry.

"As the Tories now obsess over their next leader, they must stop playing dangerous electoral games with people's jobs.  No serious candidate to be prime minister should be promising to plunge out of our biggest trading partner with no deal because this would devastate manufacturing communities.

"The government must continue to function, working with us to bring investment, research and development and new model platforms to this country.  Failure to do so will not only be devastating for UK plc and our economy, but unforgivable for our industrial heartlands and generations of workers to come."

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065
Email: shaun.noble@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.