UPDATE: GE site to stay open - but around 80 employees to be made redundant - The Rugby Observer

UPDATE: GE site to stay open - but around 80 employees to be made redundant

Rugby Editorial 20th May, 2019 Updated: 22nd May, 2019   0

SAVED – General Electric’s (GE) Power Conversion site in Rugby is to stay open after the Ministry of Defence ordered a second batch of Type 26 Frigate motors to be built at the facility.

It secures the immediate future of the Technology Drive site, which GE had been planning to close and move production to a plant in Nancy, France by the end of this year.

However, GE still plans to downsize the facility “with reduced manufacturing and related activities” by making around 80 of the 250 employees redundant.

A GE spokesperson said: “We remain committed to supporting all those impacted to help identify other career opportunities, whether externally or within another GE business.

“Our plans for the site will focus on the defence sector, where we manufacture large electric motors for Navy ships; the energy sector where we provide solutions to power quality challenges; research and development into new technology; and service, where we have a large installed base of machines all around the world that we will support for many years to come.”

Unite the union’s assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “Unite’s priority is now to reduce the number of potential redundancies at the site and secure its long-term future. We urge the government to ensure vital skills and knowledge are not lost for a generation by working with us to ensure the site has a pipeline of work for years to come.

“This must mean guaranteeing new ships are built in the UK, powered by motors from the UK and made with UK steel.

“Anything less would be a betrayal of the UK’s global status as a leader in shipbuilding and manufacturing, and the communities these industries sustain.”

The MoD’s order comes after months of campaigning and a recent hearing of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, whose MPs said closing the site would lead to a ‘loss of sovereign capability and security’.

Steve Kerr, Unite’s senior rep at GE, said: “The proposal still results in a number of high quality engineering jobs being lost to the town. We’ll be pushing for a strategic plan to secure the future of the factory and grow our capability.”

Rugby MP Mark Pawsey said he was delighted the site would remain open.

He said: “I was deeply concerned by the proposals to close the site, which is why I have been lobbying Ministers to bring forward orders for the motors and ensure they are manufactured here in Rugby.

“I will continue to work with my colleagues in Government, Unite and GE to ensure that high quality manufacturing continues to have a bright future in Rugby.”

Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Rugby Debbie Bannigan said it would have been ‘madness’ to allow the factory to close.

She said: “The work that happens here is essential for our defence capability and we simply can’t stand by and see it moved overseas on the whim of a multinational business. Unite has run a brilliant campaign and it’s a testament to their diligence that this work will continue here.”


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