Mick Whitley, Birkenhead’s MP, expressed his disappointment at the sudden announcement of 178 redundancies at Cammell Laird shipyards.
Mick questioned the management’s claim that the job cuts were about “modernising” the operation of the plant. In 2018 job cuts were proposed and the workforce stood firm with a series of strikes and other forms of action. This resulted in an agreement that recognised the need for the yard to “remain competitive in bidding for new and future work”.
That agreement ensured effective collaboration between Unite the Union, the GMB union and the management and they subsequently worked well together to modernise the yards and bring in work.
Following constructive discussions with the Cammell Laird management and trade union representatives, on Tuesday 1 December Mick Whitley secured a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament on the issue of defence procurement and supply chains.
Cammell Laird stands to benefit from the construction of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s new Fleet Solid Support Ships.
The Secretary of State for Defence’s announcement that these vessels will be classified as warships, guaranteeing that they will be built in Britain, was welcome, and Cammell Laird is a genuine candidate for the contract.
All that means that the yard has a potentially vibrant future. Which is why the sudden announcement of the redundancies came as such a surprise.
Commenting on the announcement Mick said, “If the company needs to make a headcount reduction then it could have been discussed with the trade unions and, in the spirit of the 2018 agreement, undertaken through a properly negotiated voluntary redundancy scheme. But suddenly announcing the job cuts with the possibility of compulsory redundancies feels like the management are treating it as a poker game and decided to go all in at once.
I am appealing to them to get back round the table with the unions, develop a plan that avoids compulsory redundancies, maintains the excellent apprenticeship scheme and puts Lairds in pole position to win the forthcoming defence contracts and others.”
To further the case for this Mick is tabling an Early Day Motion on Cammell Lairds and is winning support for it in Parliament. Crucially, as well as calling for the management to think again Mick stressed the importance of government financial support to be offered now so that vital jobs are saved.
Mick added, “Unless the government acts to support jobs in my constituency then its claim to be levelling up is little more than an advertising jingle designed to make Boris Johnson look like he cares when in reality he is happy to leave towns like mine miles behind.”