Rolls Royce workers at Ansty in the West Midlands stepped up their fight against up to 1,300 job cuts with a second round of strike action on Monday of this week. Cars tailed back for miles from both gates as workers in the MSF and GMB unions caused massive disruption to the site. ‘We’re having a serious effect,’ one engineer told Socialist Worker. The strike by 500 workers, mainly skilled engineers and office workers, has been solid.
It has run alongside a number of measures such as work to rule, casual dress and a boycott of testing a prestigious job for the Ministry of Defence. ‘This is not a local dispute,’ added another striker. ‘We’re fighting Rolls-Royce plc. If they scrap 1,300 of us there’ll only be 1,200 left and they’d be much easier to pick off. There’d be no strength. And if Ansty goes there’s at least half a dozen other small sites they’ll look to attack.’
The company is offering job transfers to Bristol or Canada, but it has already started advertising the jobs. As Rebecca, an office worker, said, ‘People have been here for years. They have family commitments. What’s to say that if we move there will be job security? ‘They have admitted as much by saying it will all be up for review within two years.’
Amanda Richards, chair of Coventry Trades Council and on strike with the MSF union, believes the company is rattled.
She said, ‘They refuse to enter into genuine talks. ‘They say everything remains a proposal, but that the proposals are irreversible. They’re stonewalling. But they’re totally motivated by profit, and that’s what we’re hitting. We know we’re doing them damage, and they’re desperate not to admit it.’
Reballots have opened the way to bigger struggle