Unite

Industrial news in brief

Author

Ollie Moore

Harland and Wolff

A hundred and thirty workers at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast face the loss of their jobs, after the employer went into administration. Workers have occupied the shipyard, demanding it be taken into public ownership. Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell visited workers there on Monday 5 August. The Unite union has argued the yard’s productive capacity could be used to manufacture renewable energy infrastructure.

EMT out again on 17 August

Ford workers to meet again

Author

Matt Dunn

Union members at Ford Bridgend will meet again in the week up to 6-7 July to discuss the next steps in resisting attempts by the company to shut the plant, losing thousands of jobs in the process.

Nothing is off the table, including industrial action and “leverage” campaigning. Unite leverage takes a thoroughgoing approach to forcing a company to move – applying pressure to the investors and clients of the investors and clients and potential clients of the company concerned.

Some setbacks at Unite union rules conference

Author

Ann Field

Despite some setbacks for the top table, the 24-28 June Unite the Union Rules Conference saw little or no progress in democratising Britain’s second-biggest trade union.

The number of branch nominations needed to get on the ballot paper in a General Secretary election was increased from the current 50 to 5% of all Unite branches – around 150.

Ford: build the fightback!

Author

Matt Dunn

At the Ford Bridgend engine plant, union members have voted to reject the closure and to take industrial action if needed.

Bridgend: fight the closure!

On 6 June, Ford said it would close its Bridgend engine plant in 2020. Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of the Unite trade union, declared: “Unite representatives across all of Ford’s UK sites have previously stated if any plant in the UK is faced with closure or compulsory redundancies that they would all move to a ballot for industrial action.

Maelstrom of mendacious messaging?

Author

Jim Denham

Sometimes the Morning Star comes up with an editorial comment so bizarre, so devoid of evidence, that you wonder whether editor Ben Chacko (or whoever it is writes this stuff) re-reads their own words, or thinks about them, before dashing them off to print. The print edition on Friday 24 May, the day after the Euro-election, carried an extraordinary example.

Public ownership and workers control of British Steel

Author

Sacha Ismail

The British Steel crisis, says Labour for a Socialist Europe in a statement calling for public ownership of the steel industry, “is yet another reminder of the sheer irrationality of Brexit, attempting to reverse important elements of the integration of the European and global economy – even when that means putting vast numbers of livelihoods and whole communities at risk.” And “of the irrationality of a capitalist system where decisions about livelihoods, communities and vital social production are placed into the hands of a tiny number of profit-seekers

Making campaign wider?

Author

Mike Zubrowski

Extinction Rebellion, after eleven days of ambitious, disruptive, relatively widespread, and extensively covered actions in their “International Rebellion”, (15-25 April), have moved into a “regenerative, resting phase". They have been celebrating wins so far: media coverage, politicians seeming receptive, changes in public narratives towards recognising the gravity of the situation; reportedly huge expansions of local XR branches.

Industrial news in brief

Author

John Moloney and Ollie Moore

The PCS union’s ballot for action on pay, which closed on 29 April, gained a turnout of 47.7%.

That is over 6% higher than in 2018, but still about 3,000 votes short of reaching the 50% threshold required under Tory anti-union laws. This has highlighted, yet again, the extreme unevenness of our organisation on the ground.

Stalinists for WTO rules?

Author

Jim Denham

On Saturday 6 April, I sat in a room full of activists from the giant union Unite, and heard the union’s assistant general secretary Steve Turner talking about Brexit. He was clear on one thing: a no deal Brexit on WTO terms would be a disaster for jobs in manufacturing. Turner emphasised the chaos that no-deal would cause to the automotive sector, which is dependent upon frictionless trade across Europe.

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