Europe

Activists to support UNITE’s #GetADeal call to save BMW jobs at Cowley

Pro-European activists are holding a socially-distanced public demonstration on Thursday at the BMW Mini works in Cowley, in support of the UNITE union’s new call for a Brexit deal that secures the future of the UK car industry. 4,500 jobs at Cowley could be at risk if a no-deal Brexit results in a 10% EU tariff on UK car exports.


Colin Gordon, press oficer at Oxford for Europe said: “Concern about Brexit and BMW is not new in Oxford. Last year we ran a social media campaign to alert BMW car workers to the Brexit threat, along with a public meeting in Cowley and campaign events at the Mini plant. It is good news that UNITE has now woken up to the threat of a hard Brexit to its members’ jobs in the UK automotive industry. Now, alongside the UK car manufacturers, they are finally responding in an urgent way.”


On Thursday as part of a European Movement nation-wide day of action, campaigners will be lobbying MPs and peers to say No to No Deal, while at BMW Cowley local activists will back UNITE’s new public call to the government to #GetADeal.

Dr Peter Burke, chairman of Oxford for Europe, said: “We always knew that leaving the European Union would be difficult, complex and painful. Not even the experts, and certainly not the government, realised just how painful it would be, occurring against the background of the pandemic. The government is continuing to grandstand and make vacuous demands which in its heart of hearts it knows the EU will not agree to. It’s just playing chicken with the lives and livelihoods of people in the UK manufacturing sector, including BMW. There needs to be a deal which safeguards not only exports but supply chains. Otherwise companies like BMW will relocate to where the majority of their output is sold, i.e. inside the EU single market. We need to do everything we can to stop that from happening.

Councillor John Tanner [Littlemore, Labour], chairman of Oxford European Association, said: “The British government should do all it can to prevent a no-deal car crash when the transition period ends on 31st December. It is vital for the prosperity of Oxford that Mini can continue to sell freely to the rest of Europe and get essential spare parts from around the globe.

Giant queues of lorries at the ports, delays to just-in-time deliveries and taxes on trade would threaten thousands of skilled jobs at Cowley. The Mini Plant is Oxford’s pride and joy. Boris Johnson should get a grip and get a deal before it’s too late.

Former council leader Bob Price said: “Motor companies across Europe face losses of £100 billion over the next five years if the government fails to reach a trade agreement with the EU this month. Tariffs, regulatory checks and other trade barriers will disrupt closely linked supply chains and add crippling costs that are likely to mean closures and job losses across the 100 production sites in the UK. The impact on Oxford’s economy would be devastating.

 

A BMW executive commented in 2019: “We need frictionless trade and a no-deal Brexit will not give us that from what we can see.

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