Manufacture In Recession!

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Remploy workers on the picket line in Norwich in 2012 in a struggle to save their jobs– the last decade has seen 600,000 manufacturing workers lose their jobs
Remploy workers on the picket line in Norwich in 2012 in a struggle to save their jobs– the last decade has seen 600,000 manufacturing workers lose their jobs

MANUFACTURE is now in recession! GMB union responds to the latest ONS ‘damning’ figures which shows the start of a major slump. GMB, the union which represents thousands of manufacturing workers, has responded to the latest UK manufacturing figures which point to a sector now technically in recession, after contracting for two quarters in a row as manufacturing output fell by 0.9%.

MANUFACTURE is now in recession! GMB union responds to the latest ONS ‘damning’ figures which shows the start of a major slump. GMB, the union which represents thousands of manufacturing workers, has responded to the latest UK manufacturing figures which point to a sector now technically in recession, after contracting for two quarters in a row as manufacturing output fell by 0.9%.

This bad news follows a recent study by GMB union which found Britain’s manufacturing sector has shrunk in the past decade by almost 600,000 jobs to leave fewer than three million workers employed in the sector. Ross Murdoch, GMB National Officer, said: ‘These latest figures are a damning indictment of Theresa May’s failure to implement a coherent industrial strategy. The only thing this government is capable of manufacturing is a meltdown.

‘The government needs to urgently act to ensure that the UK manufacturing sector and its three million workers are given the security that they deserve.

‘Families across the country rely on this sector not only for work but also for vital goods that we produce in the UK. ‘If the government continue to get this wrong and fails to produce a functioning industrial strategy, it is our members and workers who will pay the price for their failure.’

British economy grew by 0.4% but factory orders dropped again as the trade deficit widened.

The greatest falls in output were for makers of metal and electrical products, where exports are important. Warmer weather helped the British economy grow at a faster pace in the three months to the end of June, despite official figures revealing the manufacturing sector slumped into recession.

The Office for National Statistics said GDP increased by 0.4% in the second quarter from a rate of 0.2% in the previous three months, helped by stronger retail sales and good weather enabling the construction industry to make-up lost ground from the heavy snow earlier this year. The Bank of England lifted interest rates to 0.75% last week, their highest level since the financial crisis a decade ago. In the three months to June, the gap between UK imports and exports widened to £5.5bn compared with the previous three months

Meanwhile a Coca-Cola bottling company plans to close two UK centres putting nearly 300 jobs at risk. Coca-Cola European Partners has announced plans to close a manufacturing plant and a distribution centre in the UK, a move that could see 288 jobs lost next year.  The company, which bottles drinks for Coca-Cola in Milton Keynes and Northampton, will shut down the two plants in 2019.

A spokesperson from Coca-Cola European Partners said: ‘The proposal is to close our manufacturing site in Milton Keynes and a separate proposal to close our distribution centre in Northampton. ‘We know this will be upsetting for our people at these sites and our immediate priority is to support them throughout the consultation process.  ‘If these proposed changes are implemented they could result in the total loss of 288 roles and the sites would close in 2019.’

This closure comes after the news earlier this year that the factory that has been making Colman’s Mustard in Norwich for nearly 160 years is to close, with the loss of lots of local jobs.

Parent company Unilever said the Carrow Works site, where Colman’s has been made since 1858, would also shut by the end of 2019. Unilever is seeking to keep Colman’s historical links with Norwich by retaining production and packing of mustard powder, the mustard milling process and mint processing at a new site in the area, in partnership with local farmers.

Production of most other products, believed to be liquid condiments, will move to Burton upon Trent, the home of Marmite and Bovril. The packing of dry sauces will move to Germany.

Unilever’s Carrow Works factory employs 113 people. Around 40 will transfer to Burton, while the new facility near Norwich will create around 25 jobs. Unilever said a recent decision by soft-drinks maker Britvic, which co-owns the site, to close its Norwich factory, had ‘serious implications’ for its business. Britvic is transferring production of Robinsons and Fruit Shoot to other UK sites, with more than 240 jobs under threat.

• The number of new cars sold to private and fleet drivers rose slightly in July but it was not enough to slow the longer-term slump in the market. New car registration data showed the overall market in July recorded a 1.2% annual rise to 163,898.

However, on a year-to-date basis the figures collated by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed a 5.5% drop to 1,477,892 registrations in the first seven months of the year.

This is in line with the industry’s forecast for the year, which predicts about 2.4m cars will be sold in 2018.

Sales to private buyers edged up 0.1% in July to 67,772, while fleet sales – which include rental companies – were 2.6% stronger at 91,542. The smaller company car market fell 10.2% to 4,584. The long-term decline has been partly driven by motorists shying away from diesel vehicles in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal, which first broke in late 2015. Diesel had about half of the UK market then but demand for vehicles powered by the fuel has since plunged.

Ministers are trying to discourage people from buying diesel cars, saying they are more polluting than petrol – something the industry disputes. Motorists have held off buying replacement vehicles, fearing they could be hit with new punitive taxes on the fuel. As a consequence, in the year to date, diesel made up just 32.5% of the total market, with sales falling 24.4% in a year.

Petrol has taken up most of the slack, rising to 61.8% market share, but environmentally-friendly Alternatively Fuelled Vehicles (AFVs) cars, such as hybrid and electric vehicles, have been the biggest beneficiary. In the seven months to the end of July, their market share rose 23.8% on an annual basis, representing 5.7% of new vehicles registrations.

Last month the government launched its ‘Road to Zero’ policy, which aims to slash vehicle emissions by encouraging AFVs with the development of charging infrastructure. This builds on the announcement last summer that by 2040 sales of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned.

Alex Buttle, director of car-buying comparison website Motorway.co.uk said confidence in diesel had been ‘shattered’. He added: ‘There’s only one direction diesel sales are going and that”s downwards. This trend is beginning to feel irreversible.’