Socialist Worker

Don’t trust shipyard bosses to save jobs at Cammell Laird

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2634

Cammell Laird workers during a strike last month

Cammell Laird workers during a strike last month (Pic: Socialist Worker)

The Unite and GMB unions suspended a programme of rolling walkouts at Cammell Laird shipyard after bosses agreed to delay job cuts.

The workers at the shipyard in Birkenhead, Merseyside, are fighting against bosses’ plans to slash 40 percent of the workforce by March.

Bosses had planned to issue 291 notices last week.

They had thrown out the unions’ proposals for a “peace plan” in return for suspending the industrial action last week.

Unite and GMB announced in response that they were escalating their rolling walkouts into January.

The industrial action saw a different section of the workforce strike each day and the whole shipyard observe an overtime ban.

Bosses agreed to a “peace plan” after the escalation, showing that they respond best to the power of strikes.

While the immediate threat of jobs cuts before Christmas has been lifted, what happens in the longer term remains up in the air.


The suspension of strikes and job cuts is designed to allow for a taskforce to find a long-term solution. This would include the unions, the government, Cammell Laird bosses and the landowners Peel Port Investments.

It said, “The agreement recognises the need for the yard to remain competitive in bidding for new and future work and all parties agree to work together to ensure this remains the case.”

Workers should not have to accept any pay restraint, worse terms and conditions or productivity deals in order to save their jobs.

They raised that there was a “hidden agenda” to bring in full blown casualisation, with a workforce made up almost entirely of agency workers.

Cammell Laird is a profitable company with an overpaid CEO, John Syvret.

Its accounts noted that “the highest paid director received emoluments of £255,000 for the year ended 31 March 2017”.

Bosses will attempt to use the pause to dampen the fighting mood and regain the upper hand.

Unions must be prepared to take to the picket lines again unless bosses agree not to push through the jobs cuts.

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