Industrial news in brief

Author: 
Darren Bedford

Honda job cuts

Car manufacturer Honda will cut over 1,000 jobs from its plant in Swindon, with 800 permanent and 325 temporary staff set to go.

Unite officer Tony Murphy said: "It's a tragedy for our members and their families. There's no doubt these cuts will have a significant knock-on impact on the supply chain, and on local shops and services .That is why we intend to save as many jobs as possible.

"Unite will oppose any compulsory job losses. We expect Honda to negotiate meaningfully with the union in order to mitigate the impact of these cuts. Unite will be meeting with our local union reps in the coming days to discuss the company's proposals."

The union must be quicker off the mark than it was when Ford announced job cuts and plant closures in Southampton and Dagenham. A Ford union rep told Solidarity: "The first day the closure was announced, we should have walked out and been demonstrating outside the plant."

Construction workers' safety strike

600 workers on a major construction site in Runcorn, Cheshire, walked off the job on 8 January in a wildcat protest about site conditions.

Workers say management are operating the site with a “bare minimum” of facilities, including toilets, for the workforce of around 1,000 workers. The toilets that are in place have no hot water and heating, and there are no working lights in the canteen. Workers also say that the site lacks adequate medical facilities.

When completed, the site will be a £65 million power station, fuelled by incinerating recyclable waste - the largest of its kind in Europe. It is operated by Irish company Mercury Engineering. It is being built principally to supply power to a nearby chemical plant and manufacturing complex.

A site meeting took place on Monday 14 January, following an inspection of the site by union stewards. Workers are discussing further action.

Scottish rail signallers' strike

Rail union RMT will launch a Scotland-wide ballot of its members who work as rail signallers, as part of an ongoing dispute about working patterns.

Signallers in Stirling and Dunblane have already struck to win a three-day working week, which the union says is possible if Network Rail switches the workers onto 12-hour shift patterns. They currently work a five-day week on eight-hour shifts.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crowd said: "Despite RMT making every possible effort to resolve this dispute through negotiation, we have met with nothing but a brick wall and broken promises from management and as a result we now have no option but to move to a strike ballot across Scotland. The ballot is currently being prepared and RMT will advise on the timetable in due course."

Meanwhile, Stirling signallers will strike again on Saturday 19 January.

Hull council bans blacklisters

Hull City Council has voted unanimously to cancel all council contracts with firms implicated in the blacklisting scandal against construction workers and other trade union activists.

The motion councillors voted on said: "A number of construction companies have been challenged about supporting the existence of and subscribing to construction industry 'blacklists', which detail covertly and potentially illegally gathered information on trade union members in the construction industry.

"Blacklisting is an unacceptable practice and cannot be condoned. The GMB union is leading a national campaign aimed at forcing those who have been involved in blacklisting to apologise and provide compensation to those who have found it impossible to work in construction as a result of this blacklisting.

"It is understood that the construction industry blacklist was collated by the Consulting Association (a private consultancy) and was then provided at a cost to construction companies as they sought to recruit/avoid new workers.

"Given the potential impact on residents of this City, the Council resolves to support the GMB campaign and, where permitted by legislation, not include companies who have been identified as using this information on our approved suppliers list for all future work."

Dave Smith, from the Blacklist Support Group, said: "Blacklisted workers applaud the unanimous decision of Hull City Council to exclude blacklisting firms from public contracts in the city.

"We call on other local authorities across the country to follow their lead until the blacklisting firms apologise and compensate the workers whose lives they have ruined".