|Volume 48 Number 24, December 15, 2018||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
On December 7, shipyard workers at the Birkenhead shipyard Cammell Laird, members of the GMB and Unite unions, suspended their strike action after the shipbuilder agreed to a four week pause to plans to make 291 people redundant. On November 23, workers at had begun what was a scheduled 10-week programme of industrial and strike action in defence of their jobs. The shipyard workers took this action despite being told that it affected important military and other government contracts.
According to the Union News a taskforce made up of the unions, the employer, its major shareholder Peel, the government, local politicians and Cammell Laird customers will now come together to try and formulate an action plan that brings forward work to save vital jobs and skills at the shipyard. It was also reported that Unite was intensifying efforts to bring forward work at Cammell Laird in a bid to remove the threat of jobs losses. In calling on the British government to bring forward work on the Royal Navy's Type 45 frigate, Dreadnought submarine and Royal Auxiliary Fleet programmes, Unite has been working with politicians and Cammell Laird customers, such as BAE Systems, while approaching the shipbuilder's major shareholder and landlord, Peel Ports for assistance.
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said in the same report: "This agreement provides for a four week breathing space and paves the way for the establishment of a joint taskforce by the Mayor to involve Unite and the GMB trade unions, Cammell Laird, Merseyside local authorities and central government departments alongside Cammell Laird customers. The agreement recognises the need for the yard to remain competitive in bidding for new and future work and all parties agree to work together to ensure this remains the case. The task-force will meet for the first time on Friday 7th December in an effort to formulate an action plan that secures the future for the yard and its workforce."
Prior to its announcement of redundancies, Cammell Laird had entered negotiations with the unions and workforces for a five-year pay deal, some backdated to July 2017, for its approximately 700 employees. The pay deal, which was facilitated by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), included a three-year first term and a two-year second term. The strike action was sparked after Cammell Laird later announced plans to axe the 291 jobs. The news came despite the yard winning a set of £619m military naval contracts. The management of Cammell Laird said that work on the RRS Sir David Attenborough, a Polar research vessel commissioned by the government funded Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), was coming to an end and the new Royal Fleet Auxiliary work would not start until March.
Cammell Laird has suspended redundancies in response to the shipyard workers' strike to defend their jobs. For the shipyard workers fighting for their interests it is more than just about fighting to secure the work for their yards, work over which they have no control. The fact is the shipyard workers took this action despite being told that it affected important military and other government contracts, which shows that the problem is that they are marginalised from having any decisive say in what is produced and how it is funded.
The problem is that the shipyard workers are forced to take a back seat whilst guaranteeing the profits of finance capitalists who depend on government contracts that have the aim of a militarised economy. The interests of shipyard workers is for a modern shipbuilding industry where people are empowered to take the decisions on a non-militarised economy, in which they have a real say in planning and that is run to meet all of the needs of that new society.
For Your Information
Joint Statement - Cammell Laird, GMB And Unite
Friday, December 7, 2018
Following constructive discussions between the trade unions and Cammell Laird, facilitated by the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, an agreement has been reached to suspend both current industrial action and the notice of redundancy due to be issued on 10th December 2018 to 291 workers in the Birkenhead shipyard.
This agreement provides for a four week breathing space and paves the way for the establishment of a joint taskforce by the Mayor to involve; Unite and the GMB trade unions, Cammell Laird, Merseyside local authorities and central government departments alongside Cammell Laird customers. The agreement recognises the need for the yard to remain competitive in bidding for new and future work and all parties agree to work together to ensure this remains the case. The task-force will meet for the first time on Friday 7th December in an effort to formulate an action plan that secures the future for the yard and its workforce.
All parties agree that Cammell Laird has a positive future and that short term measures are required to address immediate problems of work flow into the yard. The task-force will examine every opportunity to bring forward work scheduled for later in 2019 while seeking new work orders and financial assistance for a major up-skilling programme to ensure the skills necessary to compete in a highly competitive market are available from within the local community.
All parties commit to working constructively and positively during this period to bring about a long-term solution to the current difficulties experienced and remain committed to working together to secure a positive future for a world class shipyard employing a highly skilled workforce from within the local community.