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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 November 2008

Shipyard strike for fair wage

On 31 October, workers at Appledore shipyard in North Devon took part in the first of six days of strike action, which will continue every Friday and Monday after that up until 17 November.

Jim Lowe, North Devon Socialist Party

Every worker involved in shipbuilding was out, reflecting the anger at their treatment by owners Babcock Marine, and the strong union presence at the yard. Babcock Marine, who also own Devonport Dockyard, pay the workers much less at Appledore, and also do not provide them with a pensions representative or workplace nurse.

Wages in North Devon are lower than the average for Devon and nationally, and it seems Babcock Marine have been taking advantage of this for years to exploit the Appledore workers.

Extensive negotiations by the GMB and Unite representatives brought no significant concessions from Babcock Marine, and there has been no comment from the company on the strike action. However, Appledore workers are not known to shirk from a fight - the shipyard has been constantly threatened over the past thirty years, being nationalised by the then industry minister Tony Benn in the 1970s, and being taken over by the workers in 2003 when it was temporarily closed by the then owners.

Babcock Marine have threatened workers with closure in response to the strike action, even though they only ask to be paid at the same rate as their counterparts in Plymouth.

North Devon Socialist Party has expressed its support and solidarity for the industrial action. We also argue that the best way to safeguard the future of the shipyard for the workers and their families is to nationalise the yard and place it under the control of the workers.

They can develop a plan of production for ships for civilian use, as well as safeguard their own livelihoods, as part of a democratically planned and controlled economy locally, nationally and internationally.

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