“UK car factory staff shouldn’t price themselves out of their jobs”

Mike Rutherford praises those working on the UK car production line, but also has a warning for them

Opinion - UK factory worker

I’m all for praising essential employees like health professionals, cops, teachers, fire and rescue heroes, plus our defence personnel. But isn’t it time Britain gave a nod of recognition and respect to its dedicated, truly world-class workers who build vehicles that help this country –and plenty of others – thrive and survive?     

If you’re such a production person, stand up, take a bow, be proud of what you’re doing for yourself, family and nation. Your country needs you. As does the Chancellor who gorges on the annual fortunes you rake in for him via the taxes on the products you build, your wages, your company’s profits, and related taxation, duties and levies.

• UK car manufacturing up with one car built every 16 seconds

UK automotive turns over almost £75billion annually. The 800,000-plus jobs it creates, and untold billions it generates in tax, prop up HM Treasury and UK PLC.

I’ve visited vehicle production plants in dozens of countries on every continent. And I believe factory employees here are as good if not better than any others. True, Brits are hardly the least expensive. But cheapest rarely means best.

Considering their talents, work ethic and salaries, then weighing up their earnings against the high cost of UK living, these guys offer their employers great value for money. The same can’t be said of their more militant opposites on production lines in or around Paris, Seoul and Detroit. The reality is that they’re being hugely undercut by willing, able, educated, well trained Indians and Mexicans who earn £1-£2 an hour, while comfortably putting their countries in the Top 10 for global vehicle production, with Top 5 status beckoning. 

Auto Express' Best of British features

If I have a piece of humble advice for car factory staff in Britain, it’s this: Remember who you’re up against and don’t fall into the career-ending trap of pricing yourself out of your jobs. Average wages of £30k-£35k for vehicle production workers in a post-Brexit Britain are better – and then some – than zero wages. Never forget we’re a nation with jobs that are in growing danger of being exported to cheaper foreign lands.

What’s more, vulnerable Vauxhall factories in Britain are poised to be acquired by Peugeot, a company with a (pre-Brexit) history ofclosing UK production facilities, as the now redundant former factory employees at the defunct plant at Ryton, Coventry will testify. These guys would give their right arms to be on £30k salaries today.

Do you think UK car factory staff are the best in the business? Let us know below...

Recommended

'Some traditions need to be abandoned, and working 9-5 is one of them'
Opinion commute
Opinion

'Some traditions need to be abandoned, and working 9-5 is one of them'

Britain needs to re-think its approach to commuting, according to Mike Rutherford
11 Apr 2021
'It's clear that lorry drivers deserve much-improved working conditions'
Truck
Opinion

'It's clear that lorry drivers deserve much-improved working conditions'

Mike Rutherford proposes some alternative options to help streamline British imports and exports
23 Jan 2021
'Gordon Murray is my British motor industry person of 2020'
Opinion

'Gordon Murray is my British motor industry person of 2020'

Mike Rutherford highlights his positive car industry stories of 2020
4 Jan 2021
'Citroen has changed the game and changed the lives of countless consumers'
Opinion

'Citroen has changed the game and changed the lives of countless consumers'

Mike Rutherford thinks the quirky new Citroen Ami is a true game-changing car
13 Dec 2020

Most Popular

'Nissan has been quietly building an advantage over electric car rivals'
Opinion Nissan EV
Nissan

'Nissan has been quietly building an advantage over electric car rivals'

Steve Fowler thinks Nissan is in a great position to build on the Leaf's success
8 Apr 2021
Volkswagen Golf GTD vs BMW 120d
VW Golf GTD vs BMW 120d - main
Volkswagen Golf GTD Hatchback

Volkswagen Golf GTD vs BMW 120d

Can the Volkswagen Golf GTD or BMW 120d prove diesel isn't dead?
10 Apr 2021
New 2021 Kia EV6: UK prices and specifications confirmed
Kia EV6 - front
Kia EV6

New 2021 Kia EV6: UK prices and specifications confirmed

The new all-electric Kia EV6 gets two batteries, 4WD and even a rapid sporty GT version. Prices start from £40,895
30 Mar 2021