A warning has been issued by Unite, the union that represents thousands of car workers, that the government’s ‘Road to Zero’ strategy which proposes that all new cars will be electric by 2040, lacks clarity and could damage the UK’s motor industry.
The union is calling for the government to enter into urgent meaningful talks on a ‘just transition’ with the car industry and Unite in order to defend employment for thousands of jobs in diesel engine production, and for a truly workable policy to be fully developed, which will avoid damaging the UK’s automobile manufacturing sector.
In particular Unite believes that for the government’s electric car plans to be successful there needs to be far more investment in the UK’s infrastructure, to drive the demand for electric cars, including battery production, recycling and charging.
As well as greatly increasing the number of charging points, there needs to be uniformity in how drivers are charged and for re-charging times to be minimised. The government’s proposals have principally focused on the potential requirement that all new homes will be built with charging points.
The increase in the use of electric cars will also require the capacity of the National Grid to be increased, Unite believes.
Unite also believes that in order for the automobile sector to be properly supported the government will need to recognise and support the use of hybrid engines in the ‘just transition’ to electric vehicles.
Unite Assistant General Secretary, Tony Burke, stated: “Unite supports the just transition to electric cars but this must not be at the expense of the UK’s automotive industry and supply chain.
“After years of confusion and indecision the government’s latest policy lacks direction, fails to tackle the huge infrastructure changes needed for drivers to be able to use their vehicles and lacks detail on jobs and future employment.
“At this time of huge economic uncertainty the government is in severe danger of further damaging the car industry due to a failure to fully appreciate the challenges of introducing electric cars.
“If the proposals for all cars to be electric by 2040 are to be met, then the government needs to avoid unilateral off the cuff statements by ministers and politicians and properly consult industry and unions.
“Unite is working with employers, international unions including our sister union IG Metall in Germany, in how we defend jobs, create new skills and ensure the UK maintains its position as a world leader in the automotive industry.”