Socialist Worker


by Dave Clinch
Issue No. 1872

THE 550 WORKERS at Appledore Shipbuilders in north Devon were sacked on Tuesday of last week when the receiver took over the firm.

Unfortunately workers have ended the work-in they had been staging, which could have become the focus for a fight to save all the jobs.

Workers still hope to save some jobs. Union rep Roy Harkness said, 'It has been agreed with the receiver that the former workers will maintain a presence at the shipyard, as its custodians. We want to keep the yard as a focus.'

Workers and their union seem to be hoping a new buyer for the yard can be found quickly and apparently negotiations are taking place.

But there are no guarantees for any of the sacked workers on pensions, re-employment or maintenance of wages and conditions of work.

Hardship is hitting some families already, with some unable to pay for their children's school dinners following the closure.

The workforce has not been paid since Friday 19 September, having already endured a three-day week since the end of May. There is likely to be a long delay over pay, whether or not a new buyer is found.

Anger is also spreading over workers' pension rights. At a press conference on Monday of last week J Langham, one of the owners of the shipyard, said that the pension fund was safe.

He added the observation that the company was a 'generous' contributor to the pension fund, paying in more than the average amount.

Later in the week a BBC report announced that the pension fund was in fact in trouble.

Roy Harkness, a GMB shop steward and the joint unions convenor at the shipyard, said that a worker who had completed their full 40 years could receive as little as a third of what they should get. He described this as 'criminal'.

The workers have received fantastic support in the area, with donations from schools and other workplaces.

Send donations to the Appledore Shipbuilding Workers Roy Harkness, 57 Staddon Road, Appledore, North Devon EX34 1RF. Cheques payable to Appledore Shipbuilders Welfare Club.

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Article information

Sat 11 Oct 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1872
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