Unite the Union has said that Nissan’s plans to impost cost-cutting measures at its Sunderland plant must not include cutting jobs, worker’s employment terms or other benefits.
Nissan has today confirmed it will maintain its Sunderland plant as it carries out a global restructuring of its operations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Japanese carmaker suffered a net loss of £5billion in the last financial year and has subsequently closed its factory in Barcelona with the loss of around 2,800 jobs.
While the news that Nissan has decided to maintain the Sunderland plant as its European hub will be welcomed by thousands of workers, officials at Unite say that the planned efficiency savings must not lead to an attack on jobs or employees terms and other benefits.
The union is also calling for a government-led recovery plan in the automobile industry to prevent job losses and skills being lost, and to assist the industry as a whole to meet the challenges posed by climate change.
Responding to the Nissan announcement today, Unite national officer for automotive Steve Bush said:
Unite continues to push for sector-level assistance from the government to support the transition of our world-class automotive industry in these unprecedented times.
But that does not mean we will stand by as companies discuss detrimental measures in reaction to immediate and short-term challenges.
We are seeking clear assurances from Nissan that the cost-cutting measures spoken about will not impact on our members’ jobs, terms and conditions or other benefits at Europe’s most efficient plant, Sunderland.
We have made it clear to Nissan that any attempt to do this will be fought by the union and a loyal, world-class workforce. There needs to be a full consultation with Unite to ensure that any rationalisation or restructuring of the business is done in a way that protects jobs and the financial security of our members as well as the long-term future of the plant.
The loss of the jobs of our Spanish colleagues is a regrettable reminder that automotive manufacturing is facing tremendous challenges.
We send our solidarity to our colleagues in Barcelona and want to assure them that we will support all their efforts to defend their jobs.
Nissan is part of a three-way alliance of carmakers along with Renault and Mitsubishi which are restructuring their global operations in order to work more closely and cut costs.
As part of the plans, Nissan says it will focus on several “key markets” which include Japan, North America and China. Nissan chief executive Makoto Uchida said it plans to “sustain” its presence in the European market, but will leave more room for its alliance partners there such as Renault. This comes after speculation that Renault could move some of its production to the Sunderland plant.
Uchida said that the company would maintain production at its Sunderland plant, with work scheduled to begin again in June after production was paused due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Prior to the COVID-19 disruption, the factory in Sunderland was preparing for production of the next-generation Qashqai which is due out next year.
The Nissan factory in Sunderland is the UK’s biggest car plant and currently employs around 7,000 workers.