Unite calls for auto sector support as supply chain woes puts jobs at risk

Unite the union is calling for government support for the automotive industry, following the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealing today (Thursday, 28 October) that the number of cars built in the UK has fallen to the worst figure for September since 1982. A total of 67,169 cars left production lines last month, down by 41.5 per cent at the same time last year.

Unite national officer for the automotive sector, Des Quinn, said: "Make no mistake, supply chain troubles are holding back UK autos. This could carry on until 2023 so we need mitigating efforts now or good, skilled jobs are at risk. We're stepping up and we know that the industry wants to engage; the question is, where is the government?

"The supply of semiconductors tops our immediate-term concern. Essentially the microchips are the brain of the goods. But they're in everything from washing machines to cars, PlayStations to televisions, so automotive manufacturing is battling against rising demand.

"A single car could need hundreds of semiconductors to function, but it is expected that it will take up to two years for the supply to global car manufacturers to return to normal supply, to recover from the pandemic, Brexit and localised issues. 

"Inevitably, this will mean more financial pain in the short term for employers and concerns for workers.   We need to be implementing a plan now to combat the clear threat this presents to car manufacturing jobs."

Unite national officer for the automotive sector, Steve Bush, added: "Unite's reps are working with auto employers to work with us on a way through this crisis, but the government cannot sit this out. With at least 800,000 direct employees and hundreds of thousands more in the wider supply chain, the government cannot turn its back on its duty to support measures to safeguard jobs and skills. Our competitors do this, it should be a no brainer for the government here.

"We're working day and night to find solutions to keep workers at work and receiving a wage, but the problem we have is that the government sits on the sidelines.  

"This is an industry that provides decent, secure jobs to communities across the country. Not only should also be at the heart of efforts to address the climate crisis, which cannot be done without a radically improved offer from the government, but it is central to the good jobs needed for the better economy the people of the country need and deserve."

Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will fight back against any efforts to diminish workers' living standards.