Socialist Worker


by Ray Smith
Issue No. 1872

SHIPYARD WORKERS on Tyneside have won a significantly pay rise following their recent strike.

Around 100 workers employed by subcontractors C&D at the Swan Hunter and Amec shipyards staged stoppages in pursuit of their pay claim-a demand for parity with full-time workers in the yards.

Management responded by sacking the workers. But in a brilliant response the sacked workers then picketed the yards and some 3,000 of the yards' core workers struck in solidarity.

All the action was unofficial and illegal. But it got results.

The workers will have their pay raised to the level they demanded from 1 January.

But many of the workers thought they could have won a better deal and around a fifth of them voted to reject the deal on offer at a meeting last week.

One worker told Socialist Worker, 'The meeting decided to return to work immediately and in return accept a lump sum of £350 for the period 1 October 2003 to 1 January 2004.

'On 1 January they would be on the same pay as skilled workers at Swan Hunter and would have the pay parity they had been fighting for.

'This agreement was pushed very hard by the union full timers but the feeling among many of the workers was that far more could have been achieved.'

For all of its shortcomings the deal represents a massive victory for the unofficial and illegal strike action.

If the strikers had gone through official channels according to Thatcherite and New Labour anti-union laws they would still be in dead-end talks going nowhere.

Their unofficial action shows what can be done if workers are united and confident enough to take on bullying bosses and then get the support of other workers.

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Article information

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