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Strike ballot to defend Rolls Royce convenor
A NATIONAL dispute between the workers and management at aircraft engine-maker Rolls Royce looks likely after the sacking of one of the Amicus convenors at the Bristol plant.
Graeme Jones, Amicus member, North Bristol
Jerry Hicks, a convenor on the test area for 10 years, was victimised following a three-day unofficial strike and occupation of the plant, which successfully defended two workers from being sacked. The company claim the action was "unofficial and unlawful" after it disciplined two night shift workers who were allegedly found asleep.
A demonstration of over 300 workers gathered in support outside Jerry's disciplinary hearing. This took three full days to reach a decision. Jerry is quoted as saying: "Strike action is very likely. I had a kangaroo meeting with the management and they sacked me on trumped-up charges."
At several mass meetings in the last week, workers were adamant that only by taking immediate action is it possible to stop this major attack on the union by Rolls Royce management. Members have already walked out several times.
The Amicus union is balloting the membership, which is likely to take up to three weeks. The members know that an attack on their convenor is likely to be the thin end of the wedge, and will give the bosses the confidence to continue their attacks on their union.
This sacking comes at a critical time for the trade unions in Rolls Royce. New contracts have been won by the company recently, and these should secure the future of workers in the plant. But management will want to bring in more casualised and non-union labour.
Jerry Hicks, as a convenor who is prepared to fight to defend his members, is the type of trade unionist who is consistently a thorn in the side of the management. Management are already scaremongering about jobs being at stake if workers vote to strike.
In The Socialist 28 July 2005: