Published: 10:42, 15 January 2020
| Updated: 13:08, 15 January 2020
The Unite union has vowed to campaign to stop Antolin Interiors closing its car parts factory.
The 300-strong workforce at Hartlip near Sittingbourne was left devastated after bosses told them they wanted to close the site, which makes products for Jaguar Land Rover, at the end of the year.
The union, which represents the vast majority of staff, says it has not received any form of business case for why the site should close.
The company has blamed the decision on falling sales volumes and the geographical location of the factory. Brexit has also been blamed.
Formal talks over the proposed closure between Unite and the company’s management are to begin on Wednesday, January 22.
Antolin Interiors, part of the Spanish-based Grupo Antolin group, plan to cease production and close the factory between May and December this year.
Unite regional officer Mick Pollek said: “Unite believes the Hartlip factory can, and does, have a viable future.
“Over recent years, Unite has been working with Antolin Interiors to ensure the site is viable.
"The union has not received any form of business case to justify the decision to close the factory.
“Antolin Interiors has a loyal and dedicated workforce, many of whom have spent their entire working lives at the factory.
"To fail to look at all options in maintaining production would be decidedly shabby.
“The company needs to pause its proposal to close the factory until all avenues to maintain production are thoroughly explored, in full consultation with Unite.
“This area of Kent is in danger of being de-industrialised. This is yet another example of why the government must develop an active industrial strategy to preserve and enhance the UK’s manufacturing base.”
The company is currently advertising for 13 "automotive operatives" to work at its Barton factory in Staffordshire.
It is still family owned but one of the largest suppliers of car interiors, such as roof linings, door trims, lights, sun visors and instrument panels, in the world.
Clients include Dailmer, Hyundai, Renalt-Nissan, BMW, Ford and the Volkswagen Group which includes Audi and Seat.
KMTV report on the closure
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More by this authorJohn Nurden