1,100 auto workers at three GKN Driveline plants in N.C. face cutbacks

Posted December 11, 2008

— Eleven hundred auto workers at three GKN Driveline plants in N.C. face cutbacks

Employees at facilities in Person, Alamance and Lee counties will be affected by fewer work hours and reduced production schedules, the company said Thursday. Temporary and contract workers have already been let go.

GKN, which is part of United Kingdom-based GKN plc, said fluctuating demand for automobiles worldwide triggered the shutdowns.

Luhr Wohlken, director of communications for GKN Driveline Americas, declined to discuss specifics, but acknowledged plants across the company were being affected.

“The state of the global auto industry has caused production schedules from GKN’s customers to change almost every day,” he told

“Currently, GKN is reducing employee work hours, scheduling holiday production shutdowns and phasing out temporary/contract workers at all its plants worldwide, which includes its operations in North Carolina.”

Information regarding individual plant schedules is not being released for proprietary reasons, he said, adding that “GKN also has non-disclosure agreements with a number of its customers.”

Wohlken said he could not provide a total number of temporary workers at the firm’s N.C. operations. In addition to the three production plants, GKN operates a technical center in Michigan.

Workers were told Thursday that the plant in Roxboro will be closed the weeks of Dec. 22, Jan. 26 and Feb. 23, a longtime employee who attended a staff meeting told The term “shutdown” was used and the action included all three GKN plants, the worker added.

The company sent an e-mail to the N.C. Employment Security Commission before Thanksgiving with questions about unemployment benefits, according to Larry Parker of the ESC. He said the request only referenced the Alamance County plant, and a meeting did take place.

GKN Driveline touts itself as the “world’s leading manufacturer of automotive driveline components.”

Employees will be eligible for unemployment benefits, but they cloud be ineligible to receive any money for that first week of the shutdown. A one-week waiting period is required before benefits are paid, according to Parker.

The weekly benefit amount is some 60 percent of a person’s pay, with a maximum of $494, he added. How much a worker receives as well as for how long benefits are paid are determined by an individual’s wages and the amount of time a person has worked.

GKN Driveline’s parent firm has been warning since October that the auto industry slump was affecting its business. In October, GKN predicted a 20 percent drop in its annual profit and laid off all temporary workers, according to the Financial Times in London. Some 1,400 people were let go.

On Nov. 14, GKN said demand at its Driveline business unit was expected to be 20 percent lower for November and December. Orders were expected to be 40 percent lower than in the first half of the year, the Financial Times reported.


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  • yellowhorses Dec 12, 2008

    affirmativediversity - you are incorrect! I work for a Tier 1 supplier in NC and our products go into all big 3 products, every single one. We build a major component.

    And, thank the heavens, we DO NOT HAVE A UNION. WE can all see how much they've done for Michigan.

  • makeitright Dec 11, 2008

    Hey How about Washington tells the Banks to lend them the money at a flat 12%. Teh banks make money, and the poorly run car companies get the money they need to go further down the toilet.
    Long before all of this mess, I swore off buying another GM car after owning a few Saturns and being jerked around by them not honoring warrenty issues and the same with my Chevy Pickup with brake problems, but my serial number mysteriously wasn't part of the recall but was doing the same as thousands of others... Junk Junk Junk They desreve to go under.

  • whatelseisnew Dec 11, 2008

    davidrlee - this is another example of why Price should have been tossed. This is part of the Democrat payoff to the union thugs. In this particular case the republicans are correct to not go for this bailout. None of the bailouts should have happened. If these companies can not sell enough product to stay in business, then they need to use the bankruptcy laws. That is why they exist. Hopefully the Senate shoots this stupid Democrat payoff to the unions down.

  • whatelseisnew Dec 11, 2008

    doinbizzness - guess you have not been playing attention to the many Toyota quality issues and the millions of recalled vehicles.

    Buy hey unions are great aren't they? Unless you want a job.

  • affirmativediversity Dec 11, 2008

    Dear Metalhead I grew up in a GM town and have many, many family members who are UAW members. MY FACTS ARE NOT WRONG!!!

    You can be tier-1 until the cow comes home BUT I guarantee you your parts don't go to a UAW controlled plant!!! AND if they do you'd better keep it on the quiet BECAUSE that is a DEMAND in every contract and UAW members have wages long and hard STRIKES to keep it in contracts!!!!

    So who is lying...the UAW to ALL their Members or YOUR company to its EMPLOYEES!!!!

  • makeitright Dec 11, 2008

    So Price voted YES again to this? Who's padding his pockets?

  • doinbizzness Dec 11, 2008


  • makeitright Dec 11, 2008

    GM has said it needs $4 billion by the end of the month to continue operations, and believes it'll need an additional $6 billion in the first three months of 2009. Chrysler has said it needs $4 billion by the end of the first quarter.

    WHY WHY WHY would anyone give these people money? And WHY is Congress doing this and NOT the Banks???? IDIOTS in Washington that only care about themselves.
    And when they wiggle this through (probably by adding a few billion to it) who will be next?

  • Metalhead Dec 11, 2008

    Affirmativediversity, your facts are not correct. The "big three" (GM, Ford and Chrysler) are not required by any rule or union to purchase components from Union-Only facilities. I work for a tier-1 supplier and we are a non-union plant. Instead of gossip mongering, look up your facts before posting garbage. It's ok to disagree with a bail out package, but put some facts behind your arguments.

  • affirmativediversity Dec 11, 2008

    personally I'm hoping the Detroit 3 file bankruptcy AND the viable and competitive NON UNION American Auto Industry growing in Southern States expands because they bring better than average paying jobs with reasonable benefits TO OUR AREA!!!

    Where was the UAW and the Democrats when the Textile Industry was being closed down???????? Oh yeah, I remember now...the UAW was NO WHERE TO BE FOUND and the Democrats insisted that Americans didn't want "blue collar factory jobs"

    People have very, very short memories!!!