Six month’s Update
It has also been a very busy period industrially. The elephant in the room in the industries the CSEU represents is the impact of Brexit. In aerospace and automotive in particular, supply chains stretch across Europe and millions of parts travel across the UK border every year. Many components actually travel multiple times as they undergo treatments and processing before being incorporated into sub-assemblies, then major assemblies before reaching final assembly into finished products. Most of these processes depend on “just in time” delivery of parts and any delay caused by friction at the border will build in cost as time is money. Increased costs for us mean competitive advantage for someone else. The CSEU has been working closely with our affiliates and trade bodies such as ADS, (representing aerospace, defence, space and security) to try and impress on the Government just how critical these issues are to our industry. Whilst the Government say they hear us, I am not sure they are listening. I have also been working hard with IndustriAll Europe, the union federation covering manufacturing, to try and speak to as many of the unions, MEPs and government representatives of the other 27 nations in the EU as possible, impressing on them that a problem at the UK border is a problem for all of us, not just the UK. There are worrying signs that the lack of clarity emerging from the talks so far between the UK and EU is leading to companies halting investment plans in the UK. We urgently need some certainty so that investment can be rebooted.
I was really pleased to see the GMB’s report “Turning the Tide” published this week. It presents a really coherent argument about the need for three Fleet Solid Support Ships to be built here in the UK. The Government has decided that they should be classified as commercial vessels and put out to international competition, despite the fact that UK shipyards are crying out for work as the Carrier project comes to an end. This betrayal of UK workers is something the CSEU is looking at too and I have commissioned Francis Tusa, a well respected defence expert and commentator, to write a report for us, specifically focused on whether or not these ships are commercial vessels and what other EU countries have done in similar circumstances. Watch this space!