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Issue 1696


Back this ‘old fashioned’ fight

By Gill Hubbard in Glasgow

WORKERS AT Kvaerner Energy in Clydebank began a work-in this week after a mass meeting on Monday morning. Shopfloor workers decided enough was enough and locked managers out. The company has order books full to the brim. But workers still fear for their jobs, hard-won conditions and pensions. Kvaerner made a cool 40 million over a year ago by selling off part of the gas turbine industry based in Clydebank.

At the same time it sold the nearby Govan shipyard to BAe Systems. Workers there are also anxious for their jobs. Now Kvaerner wants to sell off the engineering side of the Clydebank business too. It makes components for gas turbine engines for Texas plc. Texas has hotels, property and clubs. The fear among the workforce is that the company are asset strippers after the prime land the Kvaerner engineering plant stands on.

Kvaerner GMB union convenor Robbie Robertson says the workers’ only hope lies in a fight based on “old fashioned methods”. “We need to learn how to fight again and take the campaign to the streets,” says Robbie. Workers at Kvaerner are angry at New Labour. “How can the Labour government look you in the eye when the basic right to work is being taken away?” says Robbie. “I expected the Tories to be doing it, but not my own kind.” He is calling on working class people to support their struggle by joining a rally at the gate on Thursday evening of this week.

  • Rally, 7pm, shipyard gates, Dumbarton Road, Clydebank.
  • Fax emergency messages of support to 0141 305 4928 for the attention of Robbie Robertson, works convenor.

What’s behind the Rover deal?

BMW SIGNED Longbridge over to Phoenix on Tuesday for the sum of just 10. In reality BMW has given Phoenix, headed by ex-Rover boss John Towers, 500 million to take the plant. Another 200 million is being stumped up by First Union, one of the biggest banks in the US. Union leaders hailed the deal as a victory.

Bill Morris, general secretary of the TGWU union, said of Phoenix, “I think we will work well together.” And Tony Woodley, TGWU national car industry official, said he was “over the moon”. But there are serious doubts in the minds of many Rover workers. Longbridge worker Roger Voice told reporters on Tuesday, “It’s magic news but what is the long term plan?”

There are already reports that Phoenix has been forced to scale down production plans to get financial backing. And without an agreement with another car maker many doubt whether Phoenix will be able to develop new models. Another Rover worker said on Tuesday, “This is good news in the short term for those who will keep their jobs. I’m worried about the longer term. If I stay have I got a future? Have I got a job in five years time?”

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