Campaigners are stepping up efforts to save jobs at the Army Base Repair Organisation (Abro) workshops at Donnington in Telford.
Petitioning before Christmas in the town centre saw 1,000 support signatures collected. A week earlier over 150 workers, plus their families and friends, walked to the top of the Wrekin hill as a protest against the job losses in Telford’s public sector.
The protesters were led by three armoured vehicles, that had been maintained at the Donnington site.
On 8 November armed forces minister Adam Ingram announced proposals to close the majority of the Abro workshops with the loss of 628 civil service jobs and many others that are dependant on Abro.
Workers at the site had been told to expect a statement about rationalisation on that day, but as Amicus union shop steward Brett Davis told Socialist Worker “nobody was expecting the job losses to be on such a large scale”.
The announcement comes on top of other planned public sector cuts in the Telford area, which could see in excess of 2,500 jobs going.
The reasons for the planned closure have been spelt out in a business plan that the trade unions described as seriously flawed. Shop steward and Amicus branch secretary Andy Hanks described the document has having “all the hallmarks of a plan cobbled together to justify a decision to send the work out to the private sector”.
Abro stewards have been working closely with other threatened public sector workers as part of the PCS Shropshire Action Group.
AFC Telford United recently warmed up in “Save Abro” T-shirts.
Brett told Socialist Worker, “When the stewards started the campaign many people told us it was a waste of time and the decision was a done deal. Yet with the backing from the trades council and workers across the county we have pushed the local authority into backing us and got the MPs to set up meetings with the minister.
“There is a real feeling amongst the workforce, that if we keep the pressure, on we can stop the closure.”
Messages of support to JSSC, Whitley office ABRO Donnington, Telford, TF2 8JT. For details go to www.saveabrodonnington.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk