Unite members at Cammell Laird have overwhelmingly voted to take strike action over plans by bosses to slash the workforce by 40 per cent, raising the prospect of industrial action hitting operations at the Birkenhead shipyard in the run-up to Christmas.
A total of 78.9 per cent backed strike action and 84 per cent industrial action short of a strike in the ballot on a turnout of 75.4 per cent.
Workers are angry over Cammell Laird’s ‘unnecessary’ job cuts which would see 290 jobs axed by March 2019, despite the shipyard recently winning two contracts worth a total of £619 million to support and maintain ships for the Royal Navy.
Unite fears that the company wants to casualise the workforce in a move that will see vital shipbuilding skills lost for a generation, as full-time jobs are replaced by agency labour.
A petition in support of Cammell Laird workers against the job losses has attracted nearly 5,000 signatures with widespread support from politicians and members of the general public.
Commenting Unite regional officer Ross Quinn said: “Cammell Laird bosses need to wake up to the resolve of the workforce to take a stand against these unnecessary job cuts and turn the tide against casualistion.
“Throughout the consultation meetings with management to date, it has become clear that there is no reason to make anyone compulsory redundant.
“Using the company’s own figures, we have put a proposal to management proving they can avoid dismissing anyone until February. This would allow time for additional contracts that are in offing to be secured and come on stream. In addition, it would provide the breathing space needed to clearly demonstrate that all compulsory redundancies can be avoided.
“Cammell Laird has agreed to look at this proposal and we would urge them to seriously consider it. However, should bosses press ahead and sacrifice the livelihoods of our members for their own cost-cutting ends, then there is the real prospect of them provoking industrial action and putting future contracts at risk.”
Unite will be seeking further meetings with Cammell Laird in the coming days to find a resolution to the dispute and consulting with its members on the next steps.
Notes to editors
• Unite represents workers in Britain and Ireland with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.