Leaving the EU would put thousands of manufacturing jobs at risk

Stoking up anti-EU sentiment may be popular with the right-wing press, but it creates uncertainty around jobs and investment.

This week’s statement by Stephen Odell, head of Ford Europe, warning of the possible adverse economic consequences that could follow if the UK chose to exit the European Union, is yet another shot across the bows of the increasingly hostile anti-EU stance being taking by the Tories.

Odell told the Daily Telegraph that, in the event of a future UK exit from Europe, Ford would have to re-evaluate its operations in Britain.

“Clearly we wouldn’t be alone in doing that. Would it mean tariffs? Would it mean duties? We’d take a look at what it meant,” Odell said.

“I would strongly advise against leaving the EU for business purposes, and for employment purposes in the UK.”

Ford employs over 8,500 workers directly in the UK at its engine plants in the North West, South Wales, Dagenham, in R&D in the South East and in warehousing in the Midlands.

Odell’s remarks follow similar warnings from Japanese vehicle manufacturers with major operations in the UK – notably Nissan. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said of any EU exit:

“Obviously it’s going to be a major factor happening and we are going to need to consider what does it mean for us for the future. If anything has to change we (would) need to reconsider our strategy and our investments for the future.”

The Automotive Council UK, which has helped with the success of the UK automotive sector, has stated that they “believe that the UK’s active membership of the EU is an essential factor in the automotive industry’s current and future success”.

These ‘up-front comments’ are just the tip of the iceberg. The ‘Brexit’ debate is being stoked up by Cameron and Osborne in response to hard-line Eurosceptics who keep coming back for more. As Janan Ganesh commented in the Financial Times this week:

“[the Eurosceptics]….did what they always do: win a concession they pretend is ‘final’ before coming back for more. Backbenchers who said the referendum speech would satiate them have since hounded Mr Cameron to “guarantee” it takes place in the next parliament by legislating for it in this one.”

The main aim of the hard-line Eurosceptics is to leave the EU no matter what in the belief that all will be fine and it won’t matter in terms of jobs.

The reality is that manufacturers and employers tell Unite they are alarmed at the debate and the antics of the Tories.

They will not say so upfront – for the time being. However, in dealing with companies in manufacturing, including those driving the economy and on whom any economic recovery depends and who employ thousands of highly skilled workers, Unite is aware of their concerns – and the concerns of our members working in these companies.

Stoking up anti-EU sentiment may be popular with the right-wing press, but it creates uncertainty around jobs and investment.

In Unite’s strategy for Manufacturing ‘Made In Britain’, we make the point that trade with the European Union contributes directly to over 3 million jobs in the UK – the EU is still one of the major trading partners for UK businesses.

Trade in goods between EU Member States was valued at €131 million in 2011. Unite believes leaving the EU would put thousands of manufacturing jobs and companies at risk, damage our exports to Europe and the wider global market and damage inward investment in UK manufacturing.

Isolation from the EU for Unite members working in manufacturing is unthinkable.

Like this article? Left Foot Forward relies on support from readers to sustain our progressive journalism. Can you become a supporter for £5 a month?

17 Responses to “Leaving the EU would put thousands of manufacturing jobs at risk”

  1. Cole

    No Ukip types ranting about this yet? They must be in the pub.

  2. Daley Gleephart

    €2,804,131 million in 2011 surely?

  3. budd callan

    good the sooner the EU fucks off the better

  4. wg

    Hi Cole – I haven’t been to the pub and I don’t drink but if I did I would love to spend some time in the company of those two anti-EUers – Bob Crowe and Tony Benn.

    I don’t suppose that you care too much about the EU corporate state that’s building up – big business and a political elite ganging up on the people; no worries about treaties being renamed and rammed down our throats; not too bothered about nobody being able to vote for them?

    No doubts about a eurozone troika that have taken over democracy and created the conditions that have left suicide rates in Greece at an all time high – not too concerned
    about 60% of 18-25 year olds in Spain being without a job?

    How about that old popular EU tradition of making people vote again until they get the right answer; the Irish played that particular game – they also had a 3am phone call bullying them into playing the bank bailout game – oh, what fun.

    I don’t suppose that you’re too worried about the EU’s postal directives that have forced our postal services to be opened up to competition


    How about the EU-US trade agreement that is a threat to our NHS – here, you can sign a petition opposing the inclusion of the NHS in the agreement


    – but hey, you’re all for the EU so you won’t be too worried about that.

    You carry on in your little carefree world and dismiss those nasty UKIP types – I’m not UKIP by the way, but I know what I want and I don’t want the European Union

    There – I could go on but I would think that that would be enough “ranting” for you.

  5. Daley Gleephart

    What about legislation that is introduced by UK politicians and made law in England and Wales without the people’s consent?
    A nice bit of blaming the EU for the financial crisis in America during 2008.
    But hey! We can raise the drawbridge and the rest of the world will be brought to its knees.
    As for communications, it was so nice of Margaret Thatcher to prevent BT from bidding in the great cable TV opportunity and afterwards it was an immense achievement on the part of Parliament to prevent Royal Mail from entering into competition in the pan-European postal delivery system.
    There – I too could go on.

  6. Daley Gleephart

    It would be far better to leave the EU when Nixon’s FIAT currency system collapses entirely. Until then, unless you have enough land and firearms to be self sufficient, it would be better to accept that the words of Nigel Flange are disingenuous and bear a similarity with Julius Caesar’s speeches (People’s Emperor? Like Hell he was).

  7. Timmy2much

    1 – Trade with the EU will not disappear if we left the EU. Fact,
    2 – If we left the EU we would be open to doing trade deals with the entire world., rather than relying on the eu trade deals which are not necessarily in our best interests. The scared little children that seem to think we are incapable of doing trade deals on our own are just that – scared little children that need nanny to hold there hand.
    3 – The massive assumption is that these companies will always stay in this country – there is nothing stopping them just uping and leaving on whim, so why base policies of such monumental consequences on what actions they will take? It is small minded and completely misses the bigger picture.
    4 – Manufacturing companies do not control the direction of the country

  8. Timmy2much

    you do talk complete rubbish.

  9. Sids666

    Ford said exactly the same thing about pulling out if we did not join the Euro…

  10. blarg1987

    What has not helped is our sit on the fence attitude, we were a late joiner of the EU and have not taking an active forward role in EU policy.

    What you fail to mention is that many of the above Parliament can block and veto if they wish when the changes to the working time directive were proposed the UK Goverment fought tooth and nail to be exempt.

    Yes there need to be changes in the EU but we won;t be able to make those changes from the outside.

    I do agree the NHS should not be opened up to competition etc but the trick here is to just ignore the EU if we are taken to court our defence willbe we are following the precedentset out by Francend Germany on the nationalised industries and will follow the ruling tht follows their cases. Needless to say the case would be dropped or the legislation would changed and or dropped.

  11. wg

    Oh, I won’t disagree with your cries for independence for Wales – good luck if that is your wish.

    I can’t agree with you on the US crisis being responsible for the Greeks problems – the difficulty was expecting the laid back Greeks to reach the competitive levels of World beaters Germany.

    And I agree – Thatcher and her Tories played their part in the EU corporatist game – so, why are you standing up for the EU.

  12. wg

    The problem is that decisions have been made on behalf of the people
    that have not necessarily been supported by the people – remember, we vote for parties on a number of issues and not solely on the direction of the EU – the EU gets lost in amongst the economy and invading other countries.

    The few chances we could have had to say something would have been on any treaties between the UK and the EU – but our political class always found a reason to exclude us.

    The rise of EU scepticism is due to a rising concern that the EU is
    going in a direction not necessarily wanted by the UK electorate – and that EU scepticism is not only present in the UK.

    Our Parliament is increasingly unable to veto – we are subject to the
    system of Qualified Majority Voting – we can be outvoted by the other member states.

    Yes we may find that our Parliament may dig its heels in on certain
    areas but we are mostly tied to the treaties and the Acquis communautaire


    On your point regarding working protections – the people of this country
    have fought for many years for our working conditions. The problem as I see it is that we have given permission to the EU to hold our rights in their hands – what if the EU decide on a level of rights that we don’t necessarily want – try Googling Laval and Viking.

  13. Daley Gleephart

    What cries for independence?
    I highlighted some dangers of cherry-picking events to argue for or against EU membership.

  14. beat_the_bush

    Yeah, look with all of the new Member States obligated to join the euro, with quite a few who joined in 2004 already done so (Latvia on 1st January this year for example with Lithuania next year), and currently 18 out of 28 EU states in the euro, it’s not hard to see that eventually the UK will be in the euro within a couple of decades. It might not be politically sensible to say so at the moment, but the UK will almost certainly be in a stable euro (as opposed to an increasingly devalued sterling) in this time.

  15. Cole

    Oh well, a shame about those 700,000 jobs in the car industry. But I guess the anti-EU types will just say Ford and Nissan are bluffing.

  16. gunnerbear

    Ford don’t give a f**k about whether the UK is in the EU or nor – they’ve already moved a car plant from England to Turkey using loans from the EIB (of which the UK is one of the Governors).

  17. gunnerbear

    This whole article is in essence total b****ks – who thinks trade with the EU will suddenly stop? The WTO rules make it clear that the EU can’t be a**e-holes over trade regulations.

Leave a Reply