Right of Reply

The general secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union responds to a leader that criticised his union for calling upon us to buy British cars
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The Independent Culture
YOUR EDITORIAL ("On your bikes, brothers"), is wide of the mark. We're not trying to turn back the clock. We're persuading people to buy cars and other goods made in the UK.

Just 28 per cent of all the cars we buy are built here. And we are buying fewer now than ever before. But go to France and you'll see French-built cars outnumber imports by two to one.

True, we don't have much of a "British" car industry left. Yet tens of thousands of AEEU members work for companies such as Nissan, Toyota, Ford, Vauxhall and Rover. These household names may be multinational but they invest billions and create thousands of jobs. They make quality cars we want people to buy.

And the workers who build them have moved miles over recent years. Gone are the days when car plants were dominated by confrontation. Workers are now more likely to be discussing productivity and investment than walkouts and strikes. We should be doing all that we can to support them.

But it's not just cars. We still produce thousands of products that compete with the best in the world. We have innovative companies with flexible workforces. I know, because many of my members work for them.

So when you go shopping, look to see where products are made. Try to put UK workers first. And why not ask your employer where your supplies or components are built?

It isn't dated to support UK workers and buy the products they make. It's about safeguarding and creating quality jobs. Nor will it be easy. Markets are global and habits die hard.

The AEEU is unrepentant about putting UK workers first. And judging by the support we've received so far, many of you agree with us.