THE UNITE union has expressed its ‘deep concern’ at management proposals to axe more than 200 jobs at the Aston Martin site in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales.
‘The scale of the proposed job losses is extremely concerning,’ its statement warned, ‘and raises serious questions regarding Aston Martin’s employment practices and wider commitment to South Wales.’
The threat to workers’ jobs has come both from Aston Martin bosses themselves and from their ‘contingent workforce provider’ Millbank (Priory Design Services Ltd).
Aston Martin are proposing the loss of 95 jobs whilst Millbank is proposing another 100 plus sackings.
Peter Hughes, Unite Wales Regional Secretary commented: ‘Our members working at Aston Martin will be very concerned regarding their long-term futures tonight.
‘The potential loss of over 200 jobs represents a huge chunk of the total workforce. We are calling upon Aston Martin to step back from these proposals and work with Unite and Welsh Government to find an alternative path forward.
‘We are engaged in a formal consultation on behalf of our members with a view to avoiding or reducing the impact of the redundancies across the entire workforce.
‘Unite has been concerned for some time as to the creation of a two-tier workforce at the site.
‘We have been challenging Aston Martin over the last 12 months over what we see as immoral and unethical employment practices adopted by Millbank in the employment of their contingent workers, who have been paid £8,321 less per year than an Aston Martin production worker.
‘Aston Martin is a brand that prides itself on its reputation, and has been heavily financially assisted by Welsh Government to locate at St Athan. We expect the company to therefore act in a way that is both ethical and in the spirit of social partnership that we advocate in Wales.
‘We understand that the company’s new leadership team headed up by Lawrence Stroll is looking to realign the business to deliver future success. This process however cannot simply be a hatchet job on workers’ jobs and terms and conditions.
‘Unite is prepared to work with the new leadership in Aston Martin to improve the performance of the business, providing it acts ethically and delivers highly-skilled, well-paid jobs and long-term employment security for our members.
‘We will be challenging and scrutinising these drastic proposals to get the best possible outcome for our members employed at Aston Martin, St Athan.’
- Meanwhile, Defence giant Babcock’s ‘suitability as a Ministry of Defence (MoD) contractor is being called into question’, Unite says, ‘following a breakdown in industrial relations with staff at a number of military bases.
‘Strike action by Babcock staff is currently occurring at RAF Leeming, in North Yorkshire, while strikes are also due to begin this week at the Coulport and Faslane naval bases on the Clyde.
‘Unite raised concerns that the disputes have all begun within the first six months of Babcock CEO David Lockwood taking up the role, and have urged him to intervene to resolve them.
‘In fact, more than 50 Babcock workers, who provide operational and engineering services for aircraft at RAF Leeming, including the Hawk trainer aircraft, have been on strike since January over a £5,000 shift pay disparity.
‘Strikes have also spread to Royal Navy bases on the Clyde, with more than 1,000 workers due to begin walk-outs in a dispute over pay and bargaining rights on 12 March.’
Unite lead officer for the defence sector, Caren Evans, also stressed: ‘The recent breakdowns in industrial relations between Babcock management and staff at major military bases, including a nuclear base, will naturally raise questions about the company’s suitability as an MoD contractor.
‘These disputes have occurred in the first months of David Lockwood’s tenure as Babcock’s chief executive. Ultimately it is he who must take responsibility for the crumbling workforce relations across multiple parts of the business and the disruption it is causing to military operations.
‘Mr Lockwood’s staff, as well as the MoD and the Armed Forces, must be hoping the industrial unrest will be a temporary bump in the road and not a long-term aspect of his time in leadership at Babcock.
‘Unite calls on Mr Lockwood to personally intervene in these disputes to find a settlement our members can accept. He must justify his £800,000 basic salary and generous benefits, much of which comes from public funds, by showing that there is more to his management repertoire than boosting short-term profits by driving down staff pay and T&Cs.’
- Meanwhile, Unite bank workers based at Communisis in Edinburgh have voted for strike action in a dispute over pay and the closure of a pension scheme.
Around two dozen bank workers voted for strike action by 75% on a turnout of 91%. The former Scottish Widows’ workers based at Fountainbridge are contracted to manage in-bound imaging and mail processing services for Lloyds Banking Group.
The strike action will now take place on the 6th, 12th and 19th April. The dispute is over the proposed closure by Communisis of a non-contributory pension scheme which the workers used to have with Scottish Widows, and the erosion of other terms and conditions since their transfer in 2014. The company have also imposed a pay freeze for 2021.
Sandy Smart, Unite industrial officer, said: ‘Communisis banking workers have taken this very significant step to vote for strike action. The company has behaved with a complete disregard and lack of respect for their workforce, which has culminated in this emphatic vote for strike action.
‘Communisis without any consultation has proposed to close a long-standing pension scheme which the workers used to have with Scottish Widows.
‘To add insult to injury, Communisis are also imposing a pay freeze, which is completely unacceptable to our membership who are determined to resist these detrimental proposals.’