Ninety six engineers in a critical section of Rolls Royce aerospace began an indefinite strike on Tuesday this week as they escalated their fight against the victimisation of Amicus union convenor Jerry Hicks.
The dispute, just like Gate Gourmet at the other end of the M4 motorway, is about the defence of union organisation against an aggressive employer who wants to drive down wages and conditions.
“This is a fight for the whole trade union movement,” Jerry Hicks told Socialist Worker. “That was apparent at a magnificent 400-strong rally we held last week, addressed by Tony Benn and RMT union general secretary Bob Crow among others.
“There were 22 union banners there and delegations from key workplaces. We are getting huge support. We’d like to see that on the streets of Bristol on the national demonstration called by Amicus for Friday of next week.”
Amicus is laying on transport from across Britain for the march on 2 September to get its own members and other trade unionists to Bristol.
The fight to reinstate Jerry is striking a chord throughout the engineering industry and beyond. Workers across Rolls Royce’s British plants are paying a £3 a week levy to sustain the indefinite strike action in Bristol.
A 600-strong mass meeting of the rest of the Bristol plant on Thursday of last week reconfirmed a request for an official ballot to join their fellow workers in the test area on strike. Moves to inform the company of a ballot were underway this week.
Jerry has addressed mass meetings at Rolls’s East Kilbride, Barnoldswick, Coventry and Sunderland plants. They have all supported the fight at Bristol and the call to widen the action if the company does not back down.
He was due to speak to workers from the complex of Rolls factories around Derby on Thursday of this week. The union convenor there booked a stadium to host what was expected to be a very large meeting.
A reconvened meeting of the Amicus aerospace industry committee is due to take place on Tuesday 6 September.
Jerry is a member of the Amicus national executive and the union has responded with a national defence campaign.
A powerful turnout on the protest next Friday will boost the test areas strikers and put further pressure on the company — while also providing a springboard for wider action.
Reinstate Jerry Hicks, 1pm, Friday 2 September, College Green, Bristol. For transport go to www.amicustheunion.org.uk or contact your nearest Amicus branch.