Responding to comments made by Nissan chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta on the company’s Sunderland plant, Unite national officer for automotive Steve Bush said:

"Mr Gupta's backing for the Nissan plant in Sunderland is welcome and no less than this incredible, dedicated workforce deserves.

"Through continued economic and public health uncertainty, they have battled to maintain this plant as one of the most productive in the autos sector and to put it in the best place to transition to the next generation of vehicles.

"This workforce and their community deserve a future and we will be working with Nissan to deliver this because bumpy times lie ahead. 

"That's why Unite is seeking an urgent meeting with the government to discuss the part that they must play in the full UK-wide electrification needed to secure this plant and others like it in the UK. Delivering on this would not only bring stability to auto manufacturing in the North East but also signal that this government is genuine when it talks about green investment, levelling up and backing UK manufacturing.

"This country's leaders have to stop thinking in the short-term and plan now for the changes that are coming at us fast. The UK automotive sector is a world-leader, with a skilled workforce determined to continue this well into the future, but it needs a united effort between the industry, the workforce and, crucially, the government to power forward. The sector supports more that 800,000 jobs and keeps many communities thriving. We cannot afford to lose it.

"In the UK, we are sadly unique among the auto manufacturing nations in that our government sits apart from the sector, happy to reap the rewards in the good times but absent when we need the engagement in delivering for tomorrow.

"This has to change because we desperately need high-end manufacturing such as that undertaken at Nissan to provide the jobs and generate the taxes to support our economic recovery. And we need the investment in green technology to address the climate crisis and to ensure that cars made here will have a market here.

"This is the time for the government to show that it has a plan for UK automotive manufacturing beyond the next two or three years. That means becoming an active partner in providing the infrastructure, component supply and smooth trade arrangements.

"The decisions taken today by government will determine whether we have an automotive sector to speak of tomorrow. Jobs and livelihoods depend on this, but so too does the UK's future as a high skill, high reward manufacturing nation."

ENDS

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