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.

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.

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