ON SATURDAY thousands of Swindon football fans showed their determination to fight to keep the Honda car factory open, which is an absolute life line for the future of the town.
#SaveHondaSwindon campaigners were joined by a giant ad van emblazoned with the demand to the car giant to remain in Swindon as part of a day of action to avert the closure of the town’s major employer.
The vans, which set off to the tune of The Impossible Dream, Honda’s theme, called on football fans at Saturday’s match between Swindon Town and Morecambe to join next Saturday’s massive march and rally to stop the closure of Honda’s Swindon car plant.
Car workers and campaigners unveiled the #SaveHondaSwindon ad vans outside the County Ground before the match.
Earlier in the day, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott met with underthreat Honda logistics workers and delivered a message of solidarity from Jeremy Corbyn and Labour’s shadow front bench.
Meanwhile, in Swindon town centre street stalls were set up encouraging shoppers to sign up to the #SaveHondaSwindon campaign.
In a devastating shock move last month, the Japanese car giant announced plans to close the Swindon plant, directly hitting 3,500 jobs at the plant and putting at risk more than 12,000 throughout the region and wider supply chain.
Honda Civics, the models famously made at the Swindon plant, make up one in every 10 cars sold in the UK.
The march next Saturday 30th March, will gather from 11am at the Swindon Town FC coach park, setting off from 11.30am towards the GWR Park at the heart of the town’s historic railway village.
Commenting, Unite regional officer Alan Tomala said: ‘We were out and about in Swindon on Saturday encouraging football supporters and the local community to show their support and “civic pride” by pledging to join us on the march on Saturday 30th March.
‘Honda is a major employer in Swindon and supports thousands of jobs in the supply chain. Most people in Swindon have a connection with the plant. It would be a tragedy if Honda followed through with its threat to close the factory.
‘So it is great that the shadow home secretary Diane Abbott took time from her busy schedule to meet with Honda logistics workers. It means a lot to workers whose jobs are on the line to know that they have the backing of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party’s shadow front bench.
‘We would urge as many people as possible to sign the petition and come on the march to help persuade Honda’s bosses to stay in Swindon and the UK.’
Meanwhile, members of Unite the union, employed as class one lorry drivers with Eddie Stobart, on the Walkers Snack Foods contract at Birchwood, Warrington are set to ballot for strike action over the company’s refusal to enter into meaningful discussions around workplace practices.
The drivers were transferred from Walkers Snack Foods to Eddie Stobart last year under a TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings of Protection of Employment). However, since the transfer Stobart management has continued to ignore industrial agreements that are in place to protect workers’ terms and conditions.
The ballot for strike action opens on Thursday 28th March and closes on Thursday 11th April.
Unite regional officer Steven Gerrard said: ‘Unite has made numerous requests to Stobart management to come to the table to discuss our members’ concerns.
‘However, we will not stand idle when our members’ collective agreements on their terms and conditions of employment are under attack and being totally disregarded and disrespected.
‘Previously, when our members were employed by Walkers, they had good employment relationships with the company. Unless management at Stobart take its side of industrial relations seriously this could lead to strike action and have a massive impact on supplies of, snack foods to major high street suppliers including Asda, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
‘We will continue to fight for our members’ interests.’
Unite is also holding a consultative ballot on potential industrial action at Dundee city council.
The ballot which closes on 1st April comes in response to Dundee City Council approving £10.3 million of cuts at its annual budget.
A series of detrimental measures were also approved at a meeting of the local authority’s Policy and Resources Committee last month.
This included less protection of earnings afforded to all employees when a forced change to a lesser paid role arises; greater restrictions on the length of time when an employee can flexibly retire, and the threat of compulsory redundancy.
Unite regional co-ordinating officer, Dougie Maguire, said: ‘The workforce at Dundee city council face millions of pounds of cuts despite being asked to provide the same level of service, while having their terms and conditions attacked.
‘This is an unacceptable situation for not only the workforce but the people of Dundee. Unite will now hold a consultative ballot of our membership on potential industrial action in order to protect their terms and conditions, and the quality of service the public rightly deserves.’
- Petrofac workers on BP platforms in the North Sea are seeking a change to their rota pattern or an addition of paid holidays.
Dozens of Petrofac employees on BP platforms in the North Sea have voted to go on strike.
Members of the Unite union voted to down tools amid a dispute around three-week offshore working patterns.
100% of those who voted backed strike action, of a 75% turnout.
Around 45 members will take part in the strikes across the ETAP, Clair and Clair Ridge platforms.
Unite said dates will be announced in ‘due course’.
The dispute is separate from on-going strike action taking place with Petrofac and Aker Solutions workers on Total’s Alwyn, Elgin and Dunbar platforms and the Shetland gas plant.
Unite said members are working three weeks on, three weeks off (3:3) rotas with no holiday entitlement and are seeking a change to either a 3:4 rota or for allocation of extra holidays.
Petrofac said it offered to add two weeks’ paid holiday, which was rejected.
Regional officer John Boland said: ‘Unite’s Petrofac members working on all BP platforms have voted emphatically for industrial action.
‘By 100%, the workforce are rightly demanding that their rotas be changed from the hated 3:3, and to have more time off with their families.
‘So, we call on BP and Petrofac to listen to our members’ reasonable request, and to put the welfare of their workforce first.’
Three-week rotas have been the focal point of the separate strike action on Total platforms by Petrofac and Aker Solutions staff.
Last year operators including Shell and Apache opted to change their 3:3 rotations amid claims it could have a detrimental impact on workers’ families and their mental health.