Factory Gate Meetings At Bombardier Belfast – Thursday January 18th

Workers to gather for union meetings between noon and 1.00pm on Thursday [January 18th] at gates of all five Bombardier sites

Decision by US International Trade Commission on proposed 292% C Series tariffs due to be made public within next fortnight

Unite Regional Secretary, Jackie Pollock, who will address workers at a gate meeting inside the main Bombardier site at Airport Road on Thursday coming said:

“Workers here are hugely concerned that 292% import duties on the C Series are likely to be rubber-stamped by the US International Trade Commission. This decision seems all the more likely given that the UK government last week effectively raised the white flag by announcing that they expected the tariffs would be imposed and placing their hopes in overturning them at the World Trade Organisation. That process is likely to take years – during which time the damage to jobs here in Northern Ireland will have been done.

“These tariffs effectively quadruple the price of the C Series in the US, shutting Bombardier out of the largest market globally for the aircraft. That poses an immediate and serious threat to every single job at Bombardier in Northern Ireland and by extension to those tens of thousands of workers in their supply chain and those who benefit from the boost wages provide our economy.

“To date the action taken by this government – a mere two calls by the Prime Minister to the US President – has been woefully inadequate. Inaction and supine pleading are completely unacceptable. The gate meetings on Thursday represent the next step in workers mobilising to defend Northern Ireland jobs”.

Unite regional officer with responsibility for the workforce at Bombardier, Susan Fitzgerald, will also address the gate meetings:

“Unite has organised these gate meetings as this is the eleventh hour for the workforce and so far we have seen only complete inaction and a total lack of urgency from government and our local political leaders on the threat to jobs.
“The ITC decision directly threatens more than four thousand workers and indirectly a further 20,000. Unite will not join the government in raising the white flag and resigning ourselves to defeat.
“We demand that the UK government plans now for all eventualities. They must use whatever power they have to force Boeing to withdraw their complaint, there doesn’t need to be single job loss for any worker in Boeing or Bombardier. We will continue to fight for the jobs, skills and future of our members and their families”, Ms Fitzgerald finished.

Media who wish to access the gate meeting at the main site will need access passes as it will be held on Bombardier grounds. We are asking for all media to contact Unite to arrange this through emailing our Belfast media account or leaving a phone message with Donal O’Cofaigh, Unite Campaigns & Communications (NI) on 07810 157926.

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Fantasy Trade Deals: Welcome To Cloud Cuckoo Land

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady says suggstions of joining TPP trade deal is “Scraping the bottom of the barrel”

Last weeks latest ‘flight of fancy’ by International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and his Brexit team (cheered on by the pro-Brexit media) that the UK has held informal talks on joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement, if the UK leaves the EU single market has been roundly trashed by economists, politicians and trade unions.

The TUC issued a warning about the possible impact on workers’ rights if were ever to join the TPP trade agreement.

It was announced last week that UK officials have embarked on ‘informal talks’ about future membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (now dubbed the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Paternship CPTPP). Talks in New Zealand took place  in November 2017, when Liam Fox held meetings in Wellington with NZ Trade Minister David Parker.

But TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said such a move would be “scraping the bottom of the Brexit barrel. Trade unions around the world have opposed this deal because it allows labour abuses, it puts public services at risk and it gives too much control to corporations,” she said of the trading pact.

O’Grady said: “Ministers should stay focused on keeping frictionless trade with our major trading partners in the EU and protecting our rights at work. The best way to achieve this is a Brexit deal that keeps us in the single market and customs union after we leave the EU.”

The TPP deal was hit when Donald Trump pulled the USA out of the talks, which are still very slowly progressing. It still includes 11 potential members including Australia, Mexico, Singapore, Canada, Chile, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, Peru, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Trump has blamed NAFTA for being responsible for job losses in America’s industrial heartland but also abandoned the TPP talks and the talks on a trade deal with the EU  – TTIP.

US unions had mounted a vigorous campaign against TPP and received the backing of unions in counties taking part in the talks as well as UK unions such as Unite.

The US Communication Workers said TPP would be a “complete disaster” as it could incentivise corporations to move service sector jobs to lower-wage economies such as Vietnam and Australian trade unions said that thousands of jobs could be destroyed by the deal.

In UK the shadow trade secretary, Labour’s Barry Gardiner, said TPP had been “mired in controversy, with negotiations clouded in secrecy and the USA pulling out over fear of job losses” and called on Liam Fox to explain why it made sense to be discussing aligning regulations with countries on the other side of the world that accounted for 8% of British exports, given the potential losses from a nearer market that accounts for 44%.

The fact is that the Tories and their Brexit have been casting around to open any talks or get even a promise of a trade deal to counter the loss of a trading deal with the EU after Brexit.

Immediately after the Brexit vote Liam Fox, David Davis and Boris Johnson suggested that securing trade deals to replace the benefits of the EU single market would be relatively easy. Britain would, they predicted, become a ‘swashbuckling trading nation’ again. That has not been the case.

Fox has tried to make himself look busy with publicity stunts – jetting around the world but getting nowhere fast.

Initially it was suggested that Commonwealth countries would come to our aid and do some form of trade agreement, or we could get a deal with India (which in turn said that increasing student numbers coming to the UK would have to part of any deal). Trump having held hands with her in the White House promised Prime Minister May a ‘big beautiful trade deal’ (only to show his ‘America First’ credentials with the Bombardier – Boeing situation). It has been suggested we could join NAFTA with the USA, Canada and Mexico. Fox has also ‘given the impression’ deals could be done with China, Japan, Turkey, Mexico and South Korea.

On TPP Fox said it was “a bit premature” to be trying to join the TPP before a deal has been negotiated but did not deny that talks had taken place.

Another minister farcically argued that the UK’s geographic distance from the Pacific was not a barrier to such a move.

Simon Fraser, a former British diplomat who led both the Foreign Office and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, poured scorn on joining a distant trading pact. He tweeted “Welcome to cloud cuckoo land”.

This was added to by former Treasury minister, (the respected economist now a cross bench peer) Jim O’Neill, who told the German newspaper Die Welt: “Brexiteers in May’s cabinet like Boris Johnson or Michael Gove were very intellectual, smart people. But they have no clue about the world of economy. They are clueless, sadly. Clueless.”

One of the lead countries in the TPP talks Japan, is the largest economy within the TPP grouping, accounted for just 1.6% of UK’s goods exports in 2016, according to the MIT’s Observatory of Economic Complexity. Meanwhile, Germany alone accounts for 11%.

The rabid pro-Brexit media in the UK is jumping on any half-baked announcement, (such as joining TPP or Nafta) in the hope of shoring up earlier optimistic predictions that countries would be queuing at our door to negotiate a trade deal and that the EU would eventually cave in to our demands.

Trying to replace a EU single market agreement with a deal with countries 5000 miles and three time zones’ away all with differing cultures and legislation borders on madness.

Plus the fact is that no trading block or country will open discussions with the UK until they see what sort of agreement we reach with the EU – that is their main prize, not the UK.

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A Union Voice From Europe

Martin Mayer, TUC delegate to the EU Economic and Social Committee

By Martin Mayer, UK TUC delegate to EU Economic and Social Committee

December 2017


Reality check on current status of the BREXIT negotiations

On Friday 8th December, Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker finally signed the piece of paper that signalled the completion of the first stage of the negotiations, with the expectation this will trigger the long awaited negotiations on the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU, as a third country outside the EU, the single market and the customs union.

Yet just days before, the UK Government’s handling of BREXIT negotiations had descended into farce. Firstly on the Monday, Theresa May with pen poised to sign a deal on the Ireland border was forced into a humiliating climb-down when the DUP refused to agree at the last minute. The next day David Davies Minister for BREXIT made the astonishing admission to Parliament that the BREXIT impact assessments on 82 sectors of UK economy didn’t even exist. On Wednesday Philip Hammond stated that whatever financial divorce bill was agreed would be paid irrespective of the nature of any eventual deal, only to be slapped down hours later by a No 10 spokesperson. Perhaps most staggering of all, he also admitted that the Tory Cabinet has not even had a discussion about what type of BREXIT deal the Government is looking for. With the EU and the whole world looking on aghast, it seemed that 18 months after the UK Referendum we were no nearer to clearing the initial 3 hurdles set by the EU before talks on a future trade deal can begin (citizens rights, the financial divorce settlement and the Irish border).

The Irish border – far from being a side issue of relatively little importance as some Tory Brexiteers assumed- has proved to be absolutely central to what BREXIT is about as it exposes all the conundrums implicit in a divorce from the EU. All sides say they want to retain an open border in Ireland but this has to be more than “aspirational” and must be based on the hard reality of what an external EU border with a third country (in this case the UK) will look like. If, like Switzerland and Norway, we retain at least some aspects of the single market and the customs union, then an open border and near-seamless trade could be maintained. On the other extreme, if we leave both the single market and the customs union and embark on a bonfire of EU laws on consumer rights, employee protections, environmental standards and free movement as demanded by the far right neo-liberal Tory Brexiteers, a hard border with tariffs is the inevitable consequence not just in Ireland but at Dover and all other crossing points between the UK and the EU.

Theresa May, under massive pressure to break the deadlock on the first stage of the talks and after her Government has wasted 18 months trying in vain to move onto the second stage without dealing with the first, attempted to make progress on the Irish border issue by guaranteeing a large degree of convergence with EU regulations north of the border post-BREXIT (perhaps something akin to the Norway/Switzerland solution?). The problem with the original paper that Monday was there was no such assurance for the rest of the UK in its future relationship with the EU. The DUP quite rationally feared the inevitable consequence would be the movement of the EU/UK border from Ireland to the North Sea, something long mooted behind the scenes as a possible solution but one that was always clearly and emphatically rejected by the DUP whose 10 votes prop up the Government. It’s not that the DUP object to a soft BREXIT per se, but to find Northern Ireland placed at the other side of the effective border with the rest of the UK not only fundamentally challenged the integrity of the Union, but raised huge dangers for the DUP about the future prospect for the Republican dream of a re-united Ireland inside the EU. To add fuel to the fire, the DUP was not given sight of the document till late Monday morning literally hours before Theresa May was due to sign it off with Jean Claude Juncker in Brussels.

The answer was to apply the term “regulatory convergence” not just to Northern Ireland but equally to the whole of the UK (something the DUP acquiesced to rather than openly agreed). To the EU’s negotiator Michel Barnier, this means the UK would to a greater extent maintain many of the EU regulations relating to the single market, thus making near seamless trade between a post-BREXIT UK and Europe a distinct possibility. But not according to the UK’s negotiator David Davies who sparked real consternation in Brussels when once back in the UK he declared the paper was not legally binding and all was up for grabs in the eventual trade talks. It is pretty serious when the Commission then accuses the UK negotiator of a “breach of trust” and the EU Parliament days later when endorsing the deal, actually adds an amendment damning David Davies by name. The EU Commission is now scrambling to turn this “gentlemen’s agreement” into a legally binding document to seal the basic principles for Britain’s divorce settlement.

After months of Tory manoeuvrings to avoid complying with the EU’s three negotiating requirements for a divorce settlement prior to any post-BREXIT trading relationship is discussed, Theresa May’s signed agreement signifies a complete about turn. The EU now has the UK’s acceptance to a divorce bill ( a compromise figure of around £40B appears acceptable); an agreement more or less on EU and UK citizens rights; and now a solution to the Irish border problem by UK committing to “regulatory convergence”. On top of that, UK has agreed to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice for years to come, once ruled out under one of Theresa May’s “red lines”. The Tory Brexiteers once boasted they would dictate terms to the EU, which in turn would roll over in its desperation to maintain trade with us. Instead the EU 27 stayed firm and the UK Government bowed to the inevitable at the eleventh hour.

Any sensible reading of the document signed by Theresa May should mean that a hard Brexit is now dead in the water. It is clear the Tory cabinet does not understand this. After its long awaited discussion on what a future BREXIT should look like, the Tories still seem to think they can have their cake and eat it:

Regulatory convergence? Boris Johnson and Michael Gove boast in the Sunday Times that they’ll scrap the EU Working Time Directive and other “burdens on business” in their bid for a deregulated low cost low tax Britain outside the EU. Forget even a Canada-style Free Trade Agreement on that basis.

Outside the Single Market? The Tory Cabinet want to retain free access for the financial sector (the only part of the economy they actually care about), ignoring Michel Barnier’s consistent explanation that you cannot be half in and half out of the Single Market. No cherry-picking, he said.

A Canada PLUS PLUS Trade Deal? They want a free trade agreement better than Canada, with something like single market access especially for their beloved financial sector, but with the freedom to deregulate where they wish. They really don’t understand do they? Continue reading

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Treason is punished, courage is rewarded – Napoleón Gómez Urrutia

Napoleon Gomez, President of Los Mineros

Excellent article from La Jornada, in Mexico, 21st December 2017 on Mexican trade unions and the Mexican independent union Los Mineros joining with Unite the Union and the United Steelworkers in our global union Workers Uniting.

The year 2017 could not conclude without the occurrence of some very important actions and decisions at an international level that clearly reflect what is happening in Mexico and especially in the labor movement.

On the one hand, the significant suspension and eventual expulsion of the Confederation of Mexican Workers  (CTM) and the Revolutionary Confederation of Workers and Peasants (CROC) from the most important trade union organization in the world, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), with more than 170 million members. An unprecedented case that further damages these pro-government workers’ associations, accused of treason after allying themselves with conservative, opportunist and anti-union groups that contradict the objectives and principles of the ITUC. Their surrender and submission to governments of whatever ideology have been revealed worldwide.

On the other hand, Los Mineros of México were distinguished in October 2017 with permanent and enthusiastic admission as the only representative of our nation to an outstanding trade union organization, which has distinguished itself in the fight for democracy, freedom and the defense of labor and human rights.

This organization, Workers Uniting, brings together the most powerful unions in England, Scotland, Ireland, the United States, Canada and now Mexico through Los Mineros.

This is not just a symbol or a letterhead; it is union power that becomes stronger every day through the permanent struggle for justice, respect and dignity of all from a progressive and humanistic perspective and attitude.

We’d best leave aside the sad and shameful role of the CTM and the CROC, which are the same confederations that proposed last week to the Senate of the Republic, through two senators – Tereso Medina, of the CTM, and Isaías González, national leader of the CROC, both members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) – to modify Article 123 of the Constitution and reform the draft of the new Federal Labor Law with some proposals that not even the most reactionary entrepreneur would have considered, such as giving free rein to companies to contract with outsourcing companies or contractors, without any obstacle and at any level of employment, which would allow employers to freely adjust their staff or dismiss workers without justification and without the need to notify them in writing.

That is to say, a total aberration and regression, with makes it easier to understand why they were expelled from the ITUC, because they also destroy collective bargaining and, freedom of association and practically suggest canceling the right to strike, in order to ingratiate themselves and receive rewards or compensation for well serving the system of corruption that prevails in Mexico.

Workers Uniting, which was founded in 2008 and to which Los Mineros of México are now affiliated, is an organization with a common vision of a progressive unionism, based on political struggles and the experience accumulated over more than 150 years of evolution of the workers’ movement. At the center of this vision is the principle of solidarity and the understanding that workers have in common their place in the economic system, their principles and values ​​and the defense of their rights, regardless of gender, sexual, racial or ethnic identity, language or national origin, age or abilities.

This recently constituted organization unites the real working class, which is politically aware, rejects the arguments of the conservative right that has sought to discredit and divide the democratic labor sector of all countries and common rights and identity of workers, because the root of the mentality of the minority social elites is a blind faith in free trade and uncontrolled markets, which have caused so much damage for the working class.

Workers Uniting recognizes that in the global economy there are no borders, that politicians handle their agendas according to their convenience – whether in London, Ottawa, Dublin, Washington or Mexico City, and that behind them are the big corporations, multinational companies and financial institutions. The members of Workers Uniting are equally aware that all these interests are closely connected and that they constitute a central part of the strategy of the political class to orchestrate and direct global attacks against free and democratic workers’ organizations.

That is why it is important and fundamental for leaders, academics and intellectuals to articulate a credible alternative to unify and strengthen the actions of the entire working class, which has a great awareness of the need for a change of model and direction that generates greater equality, security, democracy and justice for the entire population.

With this shared vision, Workers Uniting is committed to strengthening international solidarity against exploitation, abuse and injustice, based on the principle that an injury to one is an injury to all. The enthusiastic acceptance of the membership of Los Mineros results from our prestige in the union struggle, our capacity for organization and our defense of the fundamental rights of workers, which are continuously violated in Mexico –  an outrage that has been supported by the shameful alliance of the CTM and the CROC with the enemies of the workers.

Click here to download the original in Spanish.

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Barnier’s Slide Shows How The UK Brexit Team Are Running Out Of Trade Deal Options

This is a slide presented by Michel Barnier, European Commission Chief Negotiator, to the Heads of State and Government at the European Council (Article 50) on 15th December 2017. Or how the Brexit team and Mrs. May painted themselves into a corner by drawing red lines they could not – and cannot maintain.

Brexit Secretary David Davis decieved Parliament & the public.

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Cummins workers in Stamford deserve better

News that Cummins Generator Technologies is shutting its facility in Barack Road in the next 12 months has rocked the Lincolnshire town of Stamford.

Production of the company’s alternators, which power traffic lights to hospitals, will be moved to Romania, where labour costs are four times cheaper, ending 100 years of manufacturing at the Barack Road site.

Workers feel deeply betrayed. In 2010 they agreed to a five year pay freeze and gave up their terms and conditions, including big pension cuts, to save the plant on the understanding that their jobs would be protected.

Now that the decision has been made to close the site, local management is trying to fob them off with an insulting one-off, so-called transition payment of just £3,500.

These are decent, hardworking people who have given up so much to safeguard this site. All they want is to be treated with dignity and to secure a financial package that recognises their hard work and sacrifice over the years.

Cummins always says how proud it is of its core values of dignity and respect, and doing the right thing. They have gone missing on this closure.

Sign our petition here urging Tom Linebarger, the chairman and CEO of Cummins, to intervene and do what’s right for the Stamford people losing their jobs after years of dedication.

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Oppose Tory Plans To Scrap Your Woking Time Rights

Well, it finally happened. After promising to protect workers rights, the Prime Minister is now under pressure to begin disamantling basic workers rights once we leave the EU with Boris Johnson and Micheal Gove cheered on by the right wing media aiming to scrap the Working Time Directive applying to workers in the UK.

Watch out for the argument that scrapping the Directive would make it easier for workers to earn ‘more money’ – or as one newspaper described it – “an overtime bonanza”.

The working time directive, a piece of key health and safety legislation, watered down by the Tories with an “opt-out” for individuals. Many workers originally signed the op-out fearful they would not be able to work overtime. Some were even threatned with losing their jobs. Sadly, New Labour failed to scrap the opt-out, fearful of the trashing they would get from the right wing press and of curtailing peoples right to work all the hours God sends – no matter what the consequences are.

But the fact is that under the EU’s working time directive each member state must ensure that every worker must not exceed working more than 48 hours on average, (over and upto a 52 week period) as well as providing for minimum rest periods during a shift, minimum weekly rest time and – guaranteed paid annual leave, of at least four weeks (28 days a year) – excluding bank holidays. There are also restictions on the use of child labour.

Many decent employers will recognise a long hours, work until you drop culture is no way to run a productive business. Indeed most employers organisations do not want changes to legisalation that they have got used to.

The TUC have started the campaign to oppose the scrapping of the Working Time Directive with a petition which you can sign here.

Please pass this on and lets stop the spivs and speculators in their tracks.

Most importantly lets see Labour exposing this cynical move for what it is, a chance to turn  the UK into an offshore, low skill, low paid ‘poundland’ economy.

Sign the petiton here


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Brexit secretary tells Parliament & public that industry impact studies do not exist

Brexit Secretary David Davis decieved Parliament & the public.

Unite has said David Davis has “deceived Parliament and the public”, after the Brexit secretary admitted the government has not carried out assessments of the impact of leaving the EU for different sectors of the economy.

Davis, who previously said the reports existed in “excruciating detail” and refused to publish them on the grounds that they would give away the government’s negotiating position, was forced to make the admission to the Brexit select committee on December 6th.

“There’s no systemic impact assessment,” said Davis, who went on to explain that the analyses regarding “about 50 cross-cutting sectors (and) what is going to happen to them” that he had spoken of in September 2016 were never carried out.

The studies conducted by the government and subsequently handed over to the Brexit select committee do not in fact contain a “quantitative economic forecast of outcome”, Davis said.

“That is not there. We haven’t done that,” he admitted.

The revelations came after Unite was told in a Freedom of Information Request in July that the government “has carried out extensive and diverse engagement with hundreds of businesses of all sizes across the UK on the potential implications of our withdrawal from the EU”.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: “David Davis has deceived the public and Parliament. He has repeatedly said that the government has carried out 51 sector assessments, while Unite was told in no uncertain turns that it had spoken to hundreds of business on the potential impact of Brexit.

“But this morning Davis admitted there is no ‘systematic impact assessment’ on the economy. Manufacturing companies and our members in particular will be horrified by this admission. It is frightening that the Tories don’t know what their Brexit plans will do to the economy and it beggars belief that Davis would spend so long obfuscating the truth by pretending the documents he’s tried so hard to hide contain ‘sensitive materials’.

“It’s time for the Tories to recognise that the game is up. This week’s failed negotiations over the Irish border prove Theresa May has absolutely no control and today Davis has made it abundantly clear there is no Brexit strategy. For the sake of the country this floundering government must step down before it does irreparable harm to the country.”

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Speech to Unite Manufacturing Delegates, Unite Sector Conferences, November 15th, 2017.

Speech to Unite Manufacturing Sector Conference – 15th November 2017

The Challenge of Brexit

Conference we meet at a time when manufacturing is being damaged by the Brexit chaos created by a Government who have no idea of how to handle the most complex negotiations that any country has ever taken since the end of the second world war.

We all remember days after the referendum pro Brexiteers saying that negotiating Brexit would be “easy”.

They told us other countries in the EU would want trade deals with us – they told the country “nothing would change” and “all would be well”

But for members in manufacturing the complexities of trade and exporting manufactured goods – back and forth across the Channel, across complex supply chains we knew differently.

That is why our manufacturing combine of shop stewards put together our own arguments to get a ‘Brexit On Our Terms’.

Unite warned that companies would hold back investment.

Unite said we needed a trade deal with the European Union and a Customs Union agreement

We needed to protect employment rights

We needed access to skills and a fair immigration system

The Government had not worked out impact of Brexit on manufacturing – and following last weeks publication of the Trade Bill it is clear they are still clueless.

The group Hard Brexit MPs – Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees Mogg, Ian Duncan Smith, John Redwood are happy to see manufacturing jobs destroyed – just to get out of the EU – that is their end game.

They are not concerned that we will face a low skilled, low wage, low employment rights economy – it would be the completion of the Thatcherite project that was started in the 1970’s.

They are not bothered that 44% of manufactured goods are exported – and that manufacturing accounts for 70% of research and development.

They never mention that average earnings in manufacturing are £5000 more than the whole economy.

They just want out of the EU at any price.

And make no mistake Unite members will take no lessons from the likes of James Dyson who has advocated a “hire and fire regime’ to supposedly “kick start manufacturing” – this from a man who took his manufacturing to low cost Malaysia.

They Government has no plan for our members working in steel, in making tyres, in ceramics, papermaking and in glass and chemicals who will face the dumping of cheap products, notably from China, on our market without any trade protections – and we can be proud that it was Unite who have been at forefront of campaigning for protections to stop the dumping of steel and other goods to protect our members.


  • We can be also proud of our campaign to for a free trade agreement with the EU
  • For a frictionless supply chain, to stop tariffs of up to 10% adding £1500 to the price of an exported car and that a tariff of 4% on imports from the supply chain which would also add a further massive on-costs.

Delegates: We accept the decision of the country – members may voted to leave the European Union – but they didn’t vote to destroy jobs, their companies and their communities.

So you can be assured we will continue to campaign for the best possible outcome that defends decent jobs for the future and ensures that we maintain a strong manufacturing base in the UK.


Conference in manufacturing we will be on the frontline facing the challenges from automation and the digital economy which will be set out by Sharon Graham this morning.Our manufacturing sectors stepped up to the plate and began the discussions on how we handle automation and a digital economy to protect our members jobs.

One thing is clear, trying to stop the “digital revolution” is like trying to “un-invent electricity” – it won’t happen.

Unite has set out a clear structure and policy and one which I would certainly commend to our Union Reps here today and deserves your full support.

Industrial Strategy

The lack of an industrial strategy from the Government has meant that there has been no consistent Government response to technological change and to the economic problems that our industries and our members face.

The Government – or so we are told – intends to publish its industrial strategy soon – Unite’s proposals for an industrial strategy has been with them since April! They need to get a move on!

So why do we need an industrial strategy?

Take for instance the steel industry. We were warning three years ago that SSI at Redcar was on the verge of collapse and when it did the Government panicked – it was Unite and the other Unions who moved to try to defend our members jobs, pay and conditions and pensions.

We mounted a campaign to Save Our Steel that took our members to Brussels and Strasbourg to fight for our steel industry.

Those members are a credit to our Union.

A proper industrial strategy with ‘steel at its heart’ as Len McCluskey has described it could have saved steel jobs but the Government were caught out – trying to cobble together a plan at the last minute.

And look at great companies such as Vauxhall at Ellesmere Port and Luton taken over by PSA – now facing job losses because there is no overall plan to ensure we defend our “jewel in the crown” automotive industry and the auto supply chain.

The lack of an industrial strategy mean you get massive job losses announced at BAE Systems because of the “short termism” on spending our defence budget – tax payers money – on “off the shelf” kit from the USA and not ensuring that our helicopter and surveillance planes are manufactured here.

  • It is Unite that is stepping up to the plate again to press the Government to urgently bring forward a plan to manufacture a 6th Generation of manned fighter planes here in the UK.
  • It is Unite that is also arguing for the UK Government to commit to the production of electric vehicles and the necessary infrastructure – here in the UK.
  • Our science industries – in chemicals and pharmaceuticals have faced a difficult time because of a lack of industrial strategy – as has our engineering and graphical industries.

It is gratifying that not only have we defended jobs when faced with problems we have also put forward workable alternatives such as our “Wells to Wheels” strategy for the oil industry.


Our Union have been involved in some hard fought campaigns. I can’t cover them all – but it is worth mentioning…

  • In the offshore oil sector on the North Sea the “Back Home Safe” campaign run by our Scotland Region to protect our members working in some of the most dangerous conditions on earth and to keep Super Puma helicopters grounded until we have found out why some have crashed in the UK and Norway and killed workers.
  • Our campaign to defend decent pensions at BMW and in other companies across manufacturing
  • Unite’s “Defend Our Spend” campaign to procure UK defence equipment – and our campaign to build the Successor submarines in the UK.
  • We are working to organise workers in the IT industry at Fujitsu and DXC
  • and we are fnow acing job losses in Northern Ireland at Bombardier where 4500 jobs are at stake from an attack on the company by Boeing – and also now Schlumberger, and at Cummins Transmissions in Stamford and Delphi in Sudbury who are once again off-shoring work and jobs.

But let’s also look at some successes:

  • At Rolls Royce in Derby a great campaign by our Reps ensured that a new jet engine test bed is being located at the Derby site.
  • At Airbus over 1000 agency workers are now permanent employees, thanks to great work by our Unite Reps.
  • At Penguin Random House where Unite and the NUJ were stripped of union recognition, and after a great campaign by our members have won back full union rights at the company.
  • Unite secured union recognition at the new Aston Martin plant in Wales after the local management refused to talk to us.
  • Unite renegotiated with Toyota a new union agreement at the comapny and we about to sign a new collective agreement at Nissan in Sunderland which trebles the number of Shop Stewards and Union Reps on site at the biggest car plant in the UK.
  • And another important first – our members at Bentley in Crewe – winning a 35-hour week by 2019 – a great achievement.

It is Unite who have been at the forefront, of campaigning for skilled apprenticeships for young people, for women and for BAEM workers, with a real job at the end of training not low grade short term apprenticeships.


I am pleased to say that Unites’ industrial strategy was adopted by the Labour Party in their manifesto and that Labour Front Benchers now regularly seek our help, advice and support on manufacturing and industrial issues.

We can be confident that when we go into the General Election we will be able to beat the Tories hands down on manufacturing and jobs

  • You can all be proud that Unite is playing its part
  • that Unite’s voice is heard
  • and that Unite is leading the way
  • defending decent jobs,
  • defending decent pay and decent working conditions.
  • fighting for the future and fighting for manufacturing and our great Union.
  • thanks to all of our Reps and delegates for your support and dedication over the past two years.


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Posted in Blogs, Economics, Employment Rights, European Trade Unions, Labour Party, Media, The Digital Economy and Unions, Trade Unions, Trades Union Congress, Unite The Union, Workers Uniting | Leave a comment

German Union Submits 6% Pay Claim And Demands Shorter Hours

Germany’s largest trade union, IG Metall which represents engineering, automotive, electrical, aerospace, steel and manufacturing workers is preparing to submit a 6% pay claim to German engineering employers  – coupled with a claim for shorter working hours.

IG Metall negotiates a national sectoral collective agreement with the German metalworking employers organsiation, which applies across the board to almost 3.9 million workers.

The claim for shorter hours is reported to be for a 28 hour week (down from the current 35 hours) in push for ‘better work life balance’.

IG Metall is preparing for the effects of the digital revolution and automation which it is anticptated may eliminate many manufacturing jobs in the coming years.

The demand also reflects a renewed confidence among trade unions in the EU and the expectation that Germany’s economy is expected to grow by 2% this year.

“There is no reason for restraint,” IG Metall President Joerg Hofmann says, pointing to growth in manufacturing and industry and the German economy’s strong performance.
In 2016, an increase of 2.8% was agreed in July 2016 – followed by a further 2% in April this year.

Hofmann also called for a fundamental change in the way companies deal with the issue of working time. Workers now put a bigger emphasis on work-life balance and the demands for more flexibility from employers must be reflected in any wage deal, he says.

IG Metall is seeking a right to reduce weekly hours to 28 hours from 35 hours — with a right to return to full-time work after two years for shift workers and those caring for children or relatives.

IG Metall says its strategy reflects changing working preferences of workers who want more time off instead of more pay and time to care for their children or parents and to engage in communal work.

The head of the employers association Gesamtmetall has rejected the demand for a 28-hour week, saying this would exacerbate shortages of skilled workers.

The demands, presented by IG Metall’s board for the 2018 wage negotiations, still need to be approved by its regional branches in the next few weeks.

The normal practice in Germany in the metalworking sector is for negotiations to begin in one region (usually where IG Metall is particularly strong) with any negotiated agreement forming the ‘template’ for the rest of the industry.

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