The Amicus union has defiantly rejected a cynical offer by Rolls Royce management for convenor Jerry Hicks to give up his fight for reinstatement in return for a £50,000 payoff.
The test area of the Rolls Royce Bristol plant, where Jerry is convenor, is now set to begin an indefinite strike from Monday following a two to one vote in a ballot.
Rolls Royce’s insulting offer came at a meeting of company directors and Jerry Hicks, who was accompanied by national union officials.
“The offer is an admission of guilt, but also a sign that Rolls Royce does not grasp the principles of the trade union movement,” said Jerry.
Rolls Royce workers are now rallying behind the slogan: “The union can’t be bought, Jerry’s not for sale.”
Also this week a tour of Rolls Royce’s UK plants to build support for the reinstatement fight began.
On Tuesday Jerry addressed a gate meeting at the East Kilbride plant and was due to speak at Barnoldswick on Wednesday on the way back to Bristol for a rally addressed by RMT union general secretary Bob Crow and Tony Benn.
The following day he was to speak at the Coventry plant, with others to follow.
“The purpose of the meetings is to launch a national levy and to lay the basis for further solidarity,” says Jerry.
The rest of the Bristol plant is also taking the first steps to ballot for action alongside the 95 workers in the test area.
The union has called a national demonstration on Friday 2 September, starting at 1pm from College Green, Park Street, Bristol.
It is a focus for not only Amicus, but also for members of other unions. Amicus branches across Britain are being encouraged to lay on transport.
“We’ve had tremendous support so far,” says Jerry. “This is a very serious fight for the whole trade union movement.
“We are now looking to up the level of support. Finance is crucial and so is ensuring a big turnout at the demonstration.”
The backing from Amicus nationally and the many hundreds of messages of support have already created a climate where Rolls Royce workers feel more confident.
The Amicus national leaflet clearly argues that in sacking Jerry, who is also a national executive member of the union, Rolls Royce has launched an attack on the whole trade union movement.
There are echoes of the kind of union-busting US managers are trying at the Gate Gourmet company at Heathrow airport.
For the first time in Rolls Royce’s history it recently appointed a senior human resources manager from the US, Bob Plummer, who worked on management training programmes in the US.
Rolls Royce’s Bristol site is earmarked for a new plant, which will be central to the company making anticipated profits of up to £1 billion a year in five years time.
Since the disciplinary action first started, Rolls workers at Bristol have been clear this is a concerted move to get rid of an effective union representative so as to leave the whole workforce cowering.
But the fact that Rolls has already lost an interim employment tribunal and has now come up with a financial offer shows that it is worried about the impending strike in the test area and the possibility of wider action.
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