UK car output up – and down

Inside the JLR Engine pant.

Inside the JLR Engine pant.

By David Bailey, Professor of Industry at  Aston Business School

After its best first half year in ages, UK car and engine manufacturing took something of a hit last month, as annual summer shutdowns kicked in and as demand from emerging markets like China faltered.

A total of 793,642 cars were built in the first six months of 2015, up by 0.3 per cent on a year ago, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

This was the best first half year in seven years, since the onset of the global financial crisis.

UK automotive production volumes are up by more than 50 per cent since 2009 and further big investments are planned, with new models set to start production in the coming months.

The SMMT was right to stress that this recent success of the industry was built not only on “significant industry investment” (over £7 billion worth in the last three years) but also a “positive relationship with government, essential if the industry is to maintain its international competitiveness”.

The latter means an intelligent industrial policy – something that the new Business Secretary Sajid Javid needs to take note of.

I would also add in another factor for the industry’s success – the flexibility and hard work of workers and unions in pulling out all the stops to help make the UK a competitive place in which to assemble cars and source components (something the media all too often fails to recognise).

But, after a strong first half year, car production fell 11 per cent July, according to data published by the SMMT this week.

The auto industry trade body put a positive spin on things in putting this fall down to seasonal factory stoppages being taken earlier in the summer than last year.

That’s correct to an extent. Annual shutdowns are indeed taking place earlier than last year.

At JLR, the usual August shutdown was brought forward to late July and early August.

Nissan’s Sunderland plant (which produces one-in-three of all cars made in the UK), was also shut in late July.

On top of that, several plants are undertaking retooling to get ready to produce brand new cars, including the GM Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port, which will assemble the new generation Astra (won after a bidding war with other GM Europe plants).

But there’s another factor in the slowdown. Faltering demand from emerging markets like Russia and China is also now taking a toll.

Indeed, despite the recovery now under way in European car markets, last month exports were down seven per cent year-on-year.

That emerging market slowdown has a particular impact on the UK’s premium car sector (which is the second largest in the world), including JLR, Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Aston Martin.

As I noted in a recent Birmingham Post blog, JLR’s recent remarkable growth stalled in the last quarter as sales in China slipped and China became more like a ‘normal’ car market.

JLR’s revenue fell 6.6 per cent to £5 billion but it was the firm’s pre-tax profit and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) which took the biggest hit, with profit down over 30 per cent to £638 million and EBITDA down 24 per cent to £821 million.

But, as China and Russia slow, the ongoing pick-up in the European market should help the volume producers in the UK – comprising Nissan, Toyota, Vauxhall and Honda (the latter has had a torrid time in Europe in recent years having misjudged the European market).

That may mean something of more balanced growth in the UK car industry.

Growth over the last few years has been driven mainly by JLR and Nissan. Expect the other volume producers to play a bigger role over the next few years.

That means output growth is still likely going forward over the next few years unless the strength of sterling damages the competitiveness of the industry too much.

The strength of the pound is already holding back UK exports in other areas of manufacturing, with factory output barely above recession levels.

As a result, overall manufacturing is virtually stagnant and acts as a drag on UK economic growth (so much for the march of the makers).

Recent CIPS/Markit data showed export order books shrinking for the fourth month in succession, with the rising value of sterling making UK goods more expensive in the Eurozone (which accounts for almost half the British manufactured goods sold overseas).

This is one reason why I’d prefer to see interest rate rises to come later rather than sooner and to be modest in scale.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Labour Party, Media, Politics, Trade Unions, Trades Union Congress, Unite The Union, Workers Uniting | Leave a comment

Steelworkers Gear Up For Lock Out

Rallies and marches have been planned from 19 to 21 August at ArcelorMittal facilities in four states: West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana as the United Steelworkers prepare for a major dispute in the US steel industry.

At the same time, USW members are also participating in a series of events targeting 12 plants in six states belonging to Allegheny Technologies (ATI).

In June, the Steelworkers entered into negotiations of new master agreements at both ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel, which employ around 30,000 USW members combined. Both contracts are scheduled to expire on 1 September.

The USW reports that both ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel persist in their proposals to drive down compensation and force union members to pay significantly more for active and retired health benefits that are unlikely to provide the coverage of the current plans.

We recognize that this is a difficult time for the steel industry,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard, “but we also recognize that for generations, these have been good, middle-class jobs that have allowed workers to care for their families and support their communities.

“It is important that we make sure that remains true for our generation and for those who come after us,” Leo W. Gerard added.

Steelworkers at U.S. Steel have been organizing strike and lockout preparation sessions at local unions across the country.  Local union activists at each site are coming together to make plans to organizing picket lines, mobilize community support, and administer strike or lockout assistance in the event of a work stoppage.

Elsewhere, steelmaker Allegheny Technologies announced on 14 August the lockout of 2,200 Steelworkers at 12 sites around the country. The lockout is the culmination of a months-long campaign by ATI management to force workers to accept draconian and unnecessary concessions.

The United Steelworkers say ATI is spending millions of dollars on bringing outsiders to replace skilled and experienced union members even though the union has never threatened to strike or even conducted a strike authorization vote.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Blogs, International Trade Unions, Solidarity, Trade Unions, Trades Union Congress, Unite The Union, Workers Uniting | Leave a comment

Tory Party March & Rally, October 4th

oct4demo-masthead_0Sunday 4 October –  “No to austerity, yes to workers’ rights”

On Sunday 4 October, the Conservative party will open their annual conference in Manchester. After five years of austerity, falling living standards, pay freezes and huge cuts to public services, a new parliament won’t offer a fresh start to working people and their families. The Conservatives’ new plan is an old plan – back to the future with  more of the same.

We were told that austerity measures were a necessary, short, sharp dose of medicine . But five years later, the prescription is the still same. More plans to privatise public services, like the NHS. The government telling hardworking people, like midwives, teachers and transport workers, that they must work harder and longer. Public servants’ pay frozen for 4 more years.  Threats to jobs in the public sector. Plans to sell off social housing. Cutting tax credits, disability benefits and help with the rent. Unfair targeting of young people.

Trade  unions have a proud tradition of standing up for workers, their families and the services everyone uses. So now the government is threatening the right to strike.

In  the trade union bill, they propose to make it harder for unions to take strike action to oppose their cuts. They want to make it harder for workers to speak out – allowing employers to use agency workers to break strikes and putting huge restrictions on pickets and protests. In short, they want to silence millions of union members and threaten their right to strike.

So we all need to speak out now. March in Manchester on Sunday 4 October and tell the Conservatives  that we say “No!” to austerity. And tell them that workers need a voice. That trade unions give workers a voice. And that instead of austerity, it’s a resounding “Yes!” to workers’ rights.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Economics, Employment Rights, European Trade Unions, International Trade Unions, Labour Party, Media, Politics, Solidarity, Trade Unions, Trades Union Congress, Unite The Union, Workers Uniting | Leave a comment

What sort of industrial policy do we really need? Part One.

20policy01-600By David Bailey, Phil Tomlinson and Keith Cowling

It seems that the new BIS Secretary Sajid Javid is undertaking a ‘fundamental review’ of the government’s industrial policy as he wonders what a government committed to deep spending cuts in non-protected departments can actually do in terms of supporting business.

While the Tory election manifesto did commit the government to supporting key areas (including life sciences, the auto industry, robotics and nanotechnology) exactly what that means and what wider support will be available has not yet been set out.

As the Financial Times recently noted, there are few clues as to what the business secretary is thinking. “There has been a resounding silence,” one industrialist is quoted as stating. To be fair, Javid’s aides might say that he has been in the job for just a month and is still forming a view.

In the automotive case, for example, the new conservative government has pledged broad support for the Automotive Council (which delivers the industrial policy for the industry), but the Regional Growth Fund and national Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative have both gone.  While other elements of the policy – such as the Automotive Investment Organisation – remain, there is a danger that as pieces of policy wither due to lack of funding the remaining policies don’t add up to form an effective strategy.

The idea of industrial policy in the UK became associated in the 1970s with “picking winners” — providing state support for industrial champions. Despite Heseltine’s protestations to intervene ‘before breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner’ industrial policy was pretty much discarded under Thatcher as being too interventionist, and also remained out of fashion under Blair’s period in office.

Things changed during the Global Financial Crisis when a view formed that the UK had become too dependent on financial services. With the arrival of Lord Mandelson, ‘industrial activism’ came back onto the agenda – as it did in other countries too.  Elements of his approach were continued by the last coalition government, for example in the form of an active policy to support the auto industry.

Yet as we saw during the recent election campaign, the debate around the UK economy has all too often been narrow, principally framed around austerity and cutting the government’s budget deficit. Other important economic issues have received much less attention, including the burgeoning trade deficit, improving our manufacturing capabilities and promoting green technologies.

The same goes for tackling growing regional inequalities and rebalancing the economy. If we are to achieve balanced and sustainable growth, we have to address these issues. They are the route to eliminating the budget deficit and reducing the nation’s debts in the longer run.

Since the global financial crisis in 2008, of course, the UK has seen the slowest recovery since the 1930s. This has been punctuated with low productivity and the rising trade deficit, which at almost 6% of GDP is the highest since modern records began. Luckily for the Tories, as The Guardian’s Larry Elliott has pointed out, the days when bad trade figures could influence the outcome of a general election (like in 1970) appear to have passed.

Yet as we saw clearly during the global financial crisis, the UK economy is unbalanced and fragile as a result. It remains over-reliant on sectors such as retail, financial services and construction, to the detriment of manufacturing. Hence there were calls after the crisis for rebalancing.

Such concerns focused on making the economy stronger and addressing concerns over competitiveness, skills, long term de-industrialisation and unemployment/under-employment. In a clear departure from the free-market model that has dominated economic policy since the late 1970s, a range of think tanks, commentators and academics began to push for this to be brought about through a more active state industrial policy.

Traditionally there has been a dichotomy in economic policy between old-style Keynesian approaches which aim to stimulate growth through fiscal measures such as government spending or tax cuts; and supply-side reformers who have tended to focus on reducing market rigidities, for example by making labour laws more flexible.

In contrast, industrial policy may not only create and sustain domestic employment (thus sustaining demand, via increased investment and consumption), but it can also raise domestic industrial capacity and capabilities (a supply-side measure) for future growth.

The recent industrial success of the BRIC countries and previously Japan, South Korea, Germany also suggest that an active state can play a positive role in facilitating economic growth. And the US never stopped ‘doing’ industrial policy even if it’s not actually called that there.

So the debate has moved beyond the old narrow view that the state should only intervene in response to specific company or even sector failures. Now it’s seen more as being about creating the environment for sectors and regional clusters to prosper, creating successful stables from which winners can emerge.

Where once the state propped up the likes of British Leyland or the coal industry, now we think more in terms of generating new knowledge and innovation, coordinating the companies involved and investing in missing links within sectors.

Within that, of course, the policy instruments available are wide-ranging. They encompass everything from support for new sectors to trade policies to foreign direct investment to intellectual property rights to the development of clusters and regions.

More on that in the next blog (See below)

David Bailey works at the Aston Business School, Phil Tomlinson at Bath University and Keith Cowling at the University of Warwick. Their new book ‘New Perspectives on Industrial Policy for a Modern Britain’ has just been published by Oxford University Press.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Blogs, Economics, Employment Rights, Labour Party, Media, Politics, Trade Unions, Trades Union Congress, Unite The Union, Workers Uniting | Leave a comment

What sort of industrial policy do we really need? Part Two.

0,,17017363_303,00By David Bailey, Phil Tomlinson and Keith Cowling

The last coalition government’s record in relation to industrial policy has been mixed. George Osborne made promising noises in the early days about rebalancing the economy and a “march of the makers”, but unfortunately much of it looks to have been empty rhetoric. Some support was made available to rebuilding the UKs fractured supply chains and to encouraging ‘rebalancing’ but the sums on offer were small and failed to match the scale of George Osborne’s rebalancing rhetoric.

Indeed, a sustained manufacturing recovery is still not guaranteed as the run of recent GDP figures have shown. Doubts over the durability of the manufacturing recovery centre on fragility in key export markets, low levels of investment spending, concerns over the impact of high energy costs across the sector (on which the recent fall in oil prices should help), and issues of skills and access to finance down the supply chain.

The government did away with the old regional development authorities and replaced them with the local enterprise partnerships (LEPs). The intention of devolving more power to ground level was laudable, but in practice many powers were initially recentralised and LEPS anyway had insufficient funding.

Their performance has been very mixed. While LEPs in Birmingham and the Black Country have received much praise, further afield there is a question mark as to how much LEPs are really doing. In particular, they lack the regional scale to support wider development.

The coalition government was also slow to address the problems that small businesses face in raising finance, largely because the banks are now much more risk-averse. These companies are crucial to industrial supply chains, and this is an area that requires attention. The government has also made no attempt to address the UK’s lax takeover rules, which unlike in other countries do very little to protect strategically important businesses from foreign predators.

On the positive side, the last government did introduce a series of so-called Catapults. These are centres where businesses, engineers and scientists work together on late-stage research and development. The seven centres are each dedicated to different priority areas such as high-value manufacturing, transport systems and offshore renewables. They are about long-term sector development, so it is too early to judge them, but they look like the right sort of intervention.

Equally encouraging has been the work of the Automotive Council, which started under Labour and has developed into an effective body in fostering public – private cooperation and discovering knowledge in terms of challenges and opportunities.  The Council’s work has, for example, set out clear priorities for key technologies that need to be developed (such as on powertrains, lightweighting and intelligent mobility) which has both aligned government support and has underpinned business confidence and investment.

So where next under Cameron’s second administration? As noted above, at first glance, Javid’s instincts look much more free-market than his predecessor Vince Cable. His questionable initial decision to sell off a majority stake in the Green Investment Bank is an indication of this free-market stance (and will also raise questions about the government’s commitment to the low carbon economy).

But it has to be hoped that under his watch, the government looks again at the LEPs and returns to development bodies that can intervene more widely and strategically at a regional level, and do ‘smart specialisation’ through regional level industrial policies. Combined Authorities may be one way to do that.

There’s much more that the government could be doing in really trying to ‘rebalance’ the economy, for example by stimulating investment in manufacturing such as through enhanced capital allowances. And it should also do something about UK takeover rules to put the country on a level playing field with many of its main competitors, and

More broadly, there is now a strong case for UK industrial policy to be afforded an institutional status similar to both UK monetary and fiscal policies. At the very least, it should be the subject of regular strategic long-term reviews, in line with what the Wright Review suggested last year. By giving it that sort of priority, the new government would be sending out the kind of powerful message that British industry badly needs to hear.

The new Business Secretary Sajid Javid is reportedly undertaking a ‘fundamental review’ of the government’s industrial policy. The last government’s industrial policy didn’t go nearly far enough, as we note above. But where policy was reasonably well developed, as in the automotive industry, it really did make a difference. For example, interventions like the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative and Tooling Up Fund cost small amounts of money in the big scheme of things (£245m and £12m respectively). Cutting them will add little to getting the deficit down and could do real damage to our (rather limited) efforts to rebalance and reshore manufacturing activities and jobs.

David Bailey works at the Aston Business School, Phil Tomlinson at Bath University and Keith Cowling at the University of Warwick. Their new book ‘New Perspectives on Industrial Policy for a Modern Britain’ has just been published by Oxford University Press.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Blogs, Economics, Employment Rights, Labour Party, Media, Politics, Trade Unions, Trades Union Congress, Unite The Union, Workers Uniting | Leave a comment

Fast Food Workers In L.A. & N.Y.C Win Pay Deals

TN_Memphis_BLM_12-300x300US Fast Food workers have won two important victories in their fight for better wages as both Los Angeles County and New York State voted to raise minimum wages says the Global union, the International Food Workers.

On July 22nd the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020, allowing more than half the countywide workforce to earn a base income more than 60% higher than the current state-mandated $9  an hour.748c474e-9637-46a8-aa23-97e86ae1d304

The next day, the Fast Food Wage Board voted unanimously to raise minimum the wage for fast food workers to $15 an hour by 2018 in New York City and by 2021 in the rest of the state.

These are important steps for the Fight For 15 campaign for better wages and the right to join a union for US fast food workers.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Employment Rights, International Trade Unions, Labour Party, Media, Politics, Solidarity, Trade Unions, Trades Union Congress, Unite The Union, Workers Uniting | Leave a comment

‘March of the Makers’ goes into reverse

imagesBy David Bailey

Whatever happened to the ‘March of the Makers’ and the much heralded rebalancing the British economy?

This year has so far been pretty dire for UK manufacturing. The sector’s growth was only a meagre 0.1 per cent in the first three months of the year.

And when the figures come in, we’ll probably see that manufacturing declined in the second quarter.

I say that as manufacturing output actually fell in April and May as the strength of sterling – now at a seven-year high – began to bite. Production was down 0.6% in May compared with the previous month, following a 0.3% fall in April.

Looking ahead, Markit’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) – a forward-looking measure of confidence – fell to 51.4 in June. This was its weakest level for two years and down from the figure of 51.9 recorded in May.

This is still in positive territory (i.e. above 50) but well below expectations that it would come in over 52.

With manufacturing starting to act as a drag on the economy, growth is increasingly dependent once again on the UK’s dominant services sector, which accounts for as much as 80% of UK output.

So after all the talk of rebalancing, the UK economy – nationally at least – will depend on consumer spending to keep the economy moving.

Sterling, which on a trade-weighted basis is now at its strongest level since 2008, is increasingly being viewed by manufacturers as a big drag factor, according to surveys.

Only last month, of course, the Goodyear closure decision highlighted the strength of sterling.

The big competitiveness gains that we saw arising from the 2008/9 depreciation in sterling are now being unwound, making exports more expensive.

It also raises a question as to how much more steam there is in the re-shoring phenomenon.

The reshoring trend has seen one in six Midlands manufacturing firms bringing back activity to the region.

Reshoring, in part, reflected trends like the need for quick turnaround times and a desire to improve supply chain resilience and quality but a significant driver has also been a competitive exchange rate.

For several years now, UK manufacturing exports and output have been affected by ongoing economic weakness in Europe.

The recent Greek crisis aside, some green shoots are in fact now being felt in the Eurozone but ironically sterling’s strength against the euro increasingly seems to be constraining the ability of UK manufacturers to capitalise on the situation.

More positively, domestic demand for manufactured goods should be supported by rising real wages and increasing business investment.

But, while the Chancellor had pinned hopes on an export led recovery, that is not materialising and the strength of sterling and uncertainty in Europe isn’t likely to change that soon.

As I’ve been saying for some time, manufacturing had a good 2014, but the ‘March of Makers’ stalled at the back end of last year. Since then, it has gone into reverse.

There had anyway been doubts over the durability of the UK manufacturing recovery, centred on fragility in key export markets, low levels of investment spending, concerns over the impact of high energy costs across the sector (on which the fall in oil prices earlier this years did help) and issues of skills and access to finance down the supply chain.

Add to this list of woes the strength of sterling. Little wonder that manufacturing has still not got back to 2008 levels of output.

Does this matter? Yes.

There is a renewed recognition internationally that manufacturing is important.

Those European economies with larger manufacturing sectors as a proportion of the economy weathered the 2008/9 global financial crisis and aftermath in better shape than others.

And manufacturing accounts for 80 per cent of exports, 80 per cent of R&D spend and acts as a key driver of productivity growth.

Indeed, some economists blame the lack of a vibrant manufacturing sector as a reason for the UK’s recent disappointing productivity performance.

It’s widely recognised that, in the run up to the global financial crisis, the UK economy had become unbalanced, relying too much on financial services and a buoyant housing market to drive growth.

Rebalancing was meant to address that so as to provide a more resilient economy.

Sadly, the last coalition government assumed simply that the exchange rate depreciation seen back in 2008/9 would deliver the manufacturing rebound that would rebalance the economy.

The danger was that this depreciation could anyway soon be unwound, as we are now seeing, and was anyway not enough.

As I’ve stressed repeatedly in blogs, we need much more than that.

For starters, we need a serious industrial policy that, for example, backs new technological ‘platforms’ which can stimulate other areas of the economy, provides accessible finance for small firms, backs high growth firms, supports investment and supports modern advanced manufacturing.

So far we’ve seen little sign – the auto industry excepted – of any serious industrial policy from either the last coalition government or the new Conservative one.

That, sadly, has been a key shortcoming in economic policy.

Professor David Bailey works at the Aston Business School

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Economics, Labour Party, Trade Unions, Trades Union Congress, Unite The Union, Workers Uniting | Leave a comment

Speech At The CSEU On The Trade Union Bill

mungos-_637Union members from across shipbuilding and engineering today (July 15th) slammed the government’s Trade Union Bill, as unjust and in favour of employers.

Moving an emergency motion, Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said, the Bill was a pernicious, all-out attack on trade unions. Unions were facing, “the full onslaught of anti-trade union and anti-worker rights in the coming months.

“Their proposals in the Trade Union Bill are nothing to do to make work fairer, they have nothing to do with re-balancing the economy – make no mistake they are an all-out attack on trade unions, our structures and our right to exist.”

He said the Tories’ proposals to change the rules for industrial action ballots were aimed at making industrial action harder for workers – notably in the ‘essential services’.

Tony explained that at least 40 per cent of workers entitled to vote taking part in a ballot for industrial action will now be required to vote with over 50 per cent voting in favour to take action.

Hypocrites

“We know the Tories are hypocrites of the worst order – many of their own MPs didn’t achieve anywhere near that at the General Election – but no amount of saying so is going to change their minds.

“They don’t care – this is an attempt to begin to wipe us out.”

No one was safe. He warned, “If they get away with this, the clamour will be to move these rules into private industry.”

 The way forward for ballot participation was to have access to electronic balloting. Tony explained, “Unions have pressed the government to look at introducing electronic balloting, as many people do in all walks of life, day to day – including the Conservative Party itself!

“So it’s ok for the Tories – but it’s not ok for working people and unions who have to use a costly and postal ballot which is one step removed from sending a message by Morse Code!”

The Bill would also create a ‘scab’s charter’ – by allowing employment agencies to supply agency workers during an industrial dispute. Tony said this would “inevitably lead to increased tension in disputes where agency workers are used as scabs.”

But the attacks on trade union rights are also designed to damage the Labour Party too. “We know the government will launch an attack on Labour’s biggest source of funding by announcing plans to force all of union members to opt in to their political funds.

“The changes take us back to 1927 and the impact of the funding reforms, which will hit all existing members of Labour affiliated unions, will be far reaching revolving around a so-called “transparent opt-in process” for the political fund element of trade union subscriptions.”

He said these “proposals amount to nothing more than a shamelessly partisan attack on the funding of the Labour Party.

“Political funds are already subject to approval being given in regular ballots by unions.

Tory hedge fund and multi-millionaire donors will face no similar restrictions, leaving boardrooms free to write hefty and blank cheques backing the Tory Party.”

Tony concluded by warning of reports that the government plans to attack EU employment rights – including the working time regulations and agency workers directive.

“We cannot sit back and watch this happen. Sitting back and thinking it won’t happen to me or my workplace is pointless.

 As Len McCluskey said recently “Our rights come before your unjust laws – and we will never bend the knee.”

From a blog posted on UniteLive!

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Blogs, Employment Rights, Labour Party, Media, Politics, Solidarity, Trade Unions, Trades Union Congress, Unite The Union, Workers Uniting | Leave a comment

USW Toronto :Crown Packaging Workers Have “Tentative” Deal

120 USW members at Crown Holdings Inc.’s Toronto plant have been on strike since September 6th, 2013, after voting almost unanimously to reject a two-tiered collective agreement. The strikers are members of the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9176, and many of them have been working at Crown Holdings for over two decades.

During the strike representatives of the Local and USW Officials have toured the globe including visiting the UK seeking support for their dispute. This has involved demonstrations backed by Unite in London and in Southampton and articles in the press including the UKs Morning Star.

“I commend the members of Steelworkers Local 9176 and their negotiating committee for the incredible solidarity and character they exhibited throughout this prolonged struggle,” said United Steelworkers Ontario Director Marty Warren in a press release.

In March, Ontario Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn ordered an industrial inquiry to investigate the dispute. That intervention initiated a mediation process as well as an inquiry which was led by experienced mediator-arbitrator Morton Mitchnik.

Mitchnick submitted his report to the Ministry of Labour late last month, and according the union, the investigator agreed with the union that Crown Holdings’ illegal behaviour had prolonged the strike.

In September of 2014, the union filed an unfair labour practice complaint against the company over 34 workers that had been fired without just cause. Whether or not these workers were to be re-hired remained the main issue of contention between the company and the union.

Replacement workers have been running production in the plant since the beginning of the strike which is why the Steelworkers and their supporters in the labour movement have been calling on Canadians to boycott canned beer and other products made by the US-owned Crown Holdings Inc.

With about 140 plants in 40 countries, Crown Holdings Inc. is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of food and beverage cans. One out of every five cans in North America is made by Crown Holdings employees, of whom only roughly half are unionized.

The proposed contract will be presented to striking workers and submitted to a ratification vote during the weekend of July 18th-19t, so details of the agreement will not be released before the ratification vote.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Blogs, Employment Rights, International Trade Unions, Solidarity, Trade Unions, Unite The Union, Workers Uniting | Leave a comment

The Ross Pritchard Annual Essay Competition

11539655_10205571271855892_7852032934583791563_nThe Ross Pritchard Annual Essay Competition, is open to all trade unionists.

First prize £750, closing date Saturday 26th September.

The RPMF was established to commemorate the life of one of the Graphical, Paper & Media Union’s best known rank and file members, Ross Pritchard.

The Trustees of the Fund invite entries to the annual essay competition on a subject dear to Ross’s heart, this year:

“How should we build the public struggle in defence of the NHS?”

Essays – 1,000 words maximum – should be submitted to megan@gn.apc.org by 26th September 2015 and you must include your name, postal address and trade union (including your Branch or Region).

Feel free to paste this onto your own Facebook pages, Blogsites and Tweet.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Trade Unions, Unite The Union | Leave a comment