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12 December 2018

Strike action saves jobs at Cammell Laird shipyard

Jack Yarlett, Wirral Socialist Party

The planned 291 redundancies at Birkenhead's Cammell Laird shipyard have been put on hold following 13 days of strike action by workers starting on 26 November.

The redundancies were announced just weeks before Christmas in spite of 621 million worth of upcoming contracts for the company. Unions feared that the sacked employees would be replaced with low-paid agency workers. But bosses have been forced to climb down and come to the negotiating table.The strikes have been temporarily suspended.

It is no wonder the strike has had such an effect. It's been rock solid from the start. Support for the strike among workers was overwhelming and picket lines were jam-packed with both Cammell Laird workers as well as those who had joined to show their support, including Socialist Party members.

Delivery trucks turned around at the gates to show solidarity. Just one week after walking out, Cammell Laird workers had already voted to double the length of the strike action.

As Unite the Union official Ross Quinn said: "The solidarity with Cammell Laird workers is overwhelming, the only people who don't seem to want to save the jobs are the management. The GMB and Unite union members voted to further the strike after management started attacking them for exercising their basic human right to withdraw their labour."

Cammell Laird boss John Syvret complained after just a matter of days that the strike had cost the company up to 1.5 million and later attacked the strikers by claiming they were "pandering to negative stereotypes of Merseyside", remarks for which he was later forced to apologise for through gritted teeth.

A benefit gig at the Marine Street social in New Brighton to raise money for the strike fund on 7 December was turned into an impromptu celebration of this temporary victory.


Given the overwhelming support for the strike action and opposition to redundancies among the workforce and the local community, and the fact that the redundancies have been pushed back, workers have good reason to be confident that the redundancies can be beaten completely.

We will be following negotiations closely and we will be on hand to lend our support should strike action resume.

This win should be a boost to all workers and trade unionists and it is a great example of what can be done when workers organise and fight back to turn the tide of casualisation.