Unite, the UK’s leading union, is demanding that Simon Peckham, chief executive of Melrose PLC, urgently corrects his evidence to parliament following a select committee hearing today (Tuesday 23 February).

Select committee

During the evidence session to the Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) select committee, Mr Peckham spoke about the announcement last month to close the GKN factory in Erdington, Birmingham, with the loss of over 500 skilled jobs.

Mr Peckham told the committee one of the reasons why Melrose had decided to close the Birmingham factory was because it was only an “assembly plant”.

Manufacturing work undertaken

The GKN factory in Birmingham in fact currently undertakes manufacturing work and has the capacity to increase this part of its operation.

Mr Peckham further told the BEIS committee that all the manufacturing work for the Erdington factory was undertaken at a separate factory in Bisenzio, Italy and as that factory had "capacity” the decision was taken to close Birmingham. He gave the MPs present the clear impression the work from Birmingham would be transferred to Italy.

European confusion

However Unite representatives and officers, who have begun formal consultations with the company, have been informed that the work currently undertaken at the Erdington factory will be transferred to different European locations.

Evidence must be corrected

Unite national officer for automotive Des Quinn said: “Simon Peckham is guilty of misleading MPs and must apologise and correct his evidence immediately.

 “The GKN Erdington factory has a world class manufacturing capability, currently undertakes manufacturing and should be given the opportunity to increase its manufacturing capacity in the future.

“Mr Peckham clearly indicated to the select committee that the work in Erdington will be transferred to Italy and yet GKN are indicating differently. 

“Either MPs have been misinformed or the workforce has been misled. Melrose must swiftly correct the record.

“With the level of misinformation that has been given to the select committee, there must now be major question marks about the integrity of Melrose’s commitments to a “UK manufacturing powerhouse”.

“Unite remains committed to working with Melrose and all interested parties to ensure the decision to close the GKN factory in Birmingham is reversed and the jobs of the highly skilled and dedicated workforce are protected.”

The factory produces drivelines, primarily for the UK car market.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

 Since 2018 GKN has been owned by venture capitalists Melrose.

 The link to the film of the BEIS evidence session (Mr Peckham’s key evidence begins around 11:50.

 Unite vows to overturn GKN’s Birmingham factory closure plans and accuses Melrose of lying about its intentions

 During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: barckley.sumner@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.