Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite the union, will describe the East Midlands as a test of how serious the Tory government is about its approach to an industrial strategy for the whole country, when he visits the region on Thursday (16 February).
He will call on Westminster to “get serious” about flagship Midlands companies like Bombardier and Caterpillar, whose fortunes have fluctuated over the years.
Mr McCluskey, who is standing for re-election to the top job in Britain and Ireland’s biggest union, is going to Caterpillar in Desford, Leicestershire to speak to Unite reps and members working in some of the highest performing engineering industries in the region.
He will also visit Bombardier in Derby.
He will say: “Our members here in Derby and across the East Midlands are the backbone of the region’s economy, providing world-class, specialist skills to the engineering and transport sectors.
“Never again should we see the fiasco of the UK government overlooking a top class British manufacturer, a global centre of excellence, for a major contract, as happened to Bombardier.
“With Theresa May now pursuing a hard Brexit, which threatens to deprive our manufacturers of access to tariff-free access to the European single market, the prime minister must work with trade unions in achieving an industrial strategy that provides new money, real investment and guarantees that contracts remain in Britain, and in the East Midlands.
“I’ll bang in the door of number 10 until she does because, while the majority of people in the East Midlands voted to be out of Europe, they didn’t vote to be out of work.”
Len McCluskey will also visit Unite stewards at Argos’ Magna Park, Leicester warehouse, where Unite has been campaigning to defend employment conditions for warehouse workers ahead of a Unite activists’ meeting in Derby.“
Brexit presents the varied industries and diverse communities of this region with profound challenges. Around 200,000 jobs in this region are dependent on EU exports, which are worth around £8.9 million. Continued tariff-free access to the EU single market is necessary for the East Midlands to sustain its status generating world-leading jobs, skills and revenue for the UK.”