'3 percent is not enough'
"THIS IS a great day for us. I'm proud to be part of this." That was the reaction of the union works convenor, Graham Cain, on the picket line at Woodford BAe Systems on Tuesday. Around 640 manual workers at the Greater Manchester plant were striking over pay. "The vote for the strike was remarkable," he added. "There were 94 percent in favour of action. This is a show of strength, a sign of what people are feeling. The pay offer of 3 percent is not acceptable."
Five unions are involved in the dispute-the AEEU, TGWU, MSF, UCATT and the GMB. Further action is now planned-three more one-day strikes-and there is the possibility of escalation to all-out action. The strikers have told management that if sub-contractors are let onto the site during the dispute then they will move to all out.
Workers at the Woodford plant are among the lowest paid in BAe. Workers in the Chadderton plant in north Manchester earn �22 a week more than the Woodford workers. The strikers are also demanding an end to multi-year deals. Management have only made offers which cover a two-year period and have made no attempt to negotiate with the unions since the successful ballot.
One striker said, "I'm really disappointed with management. The workforce here has held the company together for over ten years. We've followed the flexibility, different working practices, and got nothing for it." BAe made a profit of �763 million last year. It can be forced to make a decent offer by more action.
The strikers are due to strike again on Thursday 14 September.
- Messages of support and donations: Works Convenor, Woodford Aerodrome, Chester Road, Woodford SK7 1QR. Fax 0161 955 3176.