Workers at Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead launched a ten-week programme of rolling industrial action on Monday.
The Unite and GMB union members are angry over bosses’ proposals to axe 290 jobs by March.
That amounts to 40 percent of the workforce at the Merseyside shipyard. One striker told Socialist Worker, “The bosses are taking a hardline attitude.
“But by striking before Christmas we are showing this arrogant management that we are determined and united in our fight.”
The rolling strike will see a different section of workers at the shipyard walk out each day for the next three weeks. And the whole workforce will observe an overtime ban until February.
Workers have already shown that they are up for the fight to save their jobs. Nearly 79 percent of Unite members who voted backed strikes in a recent ballot.
And 84 percent backed industrial action short of a strike on a turnout of 75 percent.
Unite and GMB members walked out of the shipyard at the end of their shift on Friday of last week.
Hundreds of workers at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant on Merseyside also walked out unofficially on Friday after they were told of plans to axe 241 jobs.
One worker told the Liverpool Echo newspaper that staff “upped sticks and went” when their shop stewards told them the news.
At Cammell Laird, solidarity poured onto the picket line from socialists and the trade union movement from the first day of the strike.
Supporters brought banners from Wirral trades union council and five Constituency Labour Parties.
There was a strong turnout of Labour Party figures, including the city’s mayor Joe Anderson and local councillors.
And a petition in support of Cammell Laird workers has attracted nearly 5,000 signatures with widespread support from politicians and ordinary people.
Unite regional officer Ross Quinn said the firm “should be in no doubt of the determination of the workforce to defend their jobs”.
“Bosses have signalled their intent to press ahead with plans that will see vital shipbuilding skills lost for a generation,” he said.
Unions fear that the company wants to casualise the workforce. This would see worse pay, conditions
and job security as bosses replace full-time jobs with agency labour.
The shipyard recently won two contracts worth £619 million to support and maintain ships for the Royal Navy.
Yet bosses want to press ahead with cuts as part of a broader plan to undermine workers’ rights.
Workers at the site have vital skills that could be put to socially useful purposes.
They built the climate science ship that was almost called “BoatyMcBoat Face” after an online campaign.
Every trade unionist should get behind the Cammell Laird workers’ fight to defend their jobs for now and future generations.
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