Socialist Party
| Print

26 January 2018

Cammell Lairds strikers demand improved pay and conditions

Hugh Caffrey

Hundreds of Birkenhead-based shipbuilding workers employed at Cammell Lairds and organised in the GMB and Unite unions are in dispute over pay.

On the first day of strike action, 26 January, Socialist Party members visited the picket line and we heard some horror stories about this employer which appears determined to recreate the notorious conditions on the Mersey docks from a century ago.

On a site where the employer says 1,200 people work: showers removed and not replaced, no canteen, no hot water in the toilets, 15 of 16 toilets in one block without any seats, holes in shed roofs big enough for not just rain but also hail and snow to come through onto workers, a roof leaking water onto high voltage cables 'fixed' by putting a tarpaulin over the cables - these and more examples of rotten conditions were told to us by strikers.

Workers want minor improvements to pay which would improve terms and conditions such as pensions, sick pay and death-in-service pay.

After seven or eight months of 'negotiation' with no acceptable offer being made, this week some token 'changes' were offered at the start, clearly to undermine strike action.

This has had no effect on today's action, and workers understand why the employer seems so insistent on a five-year deal and is contradicting the unions at every stage.

Chief executive officer John Syvret apparently sees himself as a rags-to-riches success story and a master of public relations. That's not how his statements in the local media have come across. In fact he looked surprised when his visit to the picket line failed to make a positive impression - pulling up in his Range Rover, he went straight to the front of the queue at the butty van and offered to buy everyone teas and coffees.

The union had already done that, so his offer was politely declined. As I was going, he'd returned, seemingly to repeat the exercise! Bizarre behaviour from the former barrow-boy, who as someone said, "could at least have offered to buy us all a bacon butty!"

Cammell Lairds isn't short of a quid or two. A Unite member told me that according to Companies House records, in round figures there was 20 million in the bank in 2016, when 4.5 million in dividends were paid out to a handful of shareholders, most of whom are company directors. In that year the company made 1.8 million profit, though it had made up to 8 million profit in previous years.

The cost of things like a marginally less-stingy sick pay policy pales by comparison. It seems there's an underlying agenda of undermining the unions, of putting profits before people, and pushing towards the casualisation of the workforce.

Strike action continues on Monday 29th and will resume in February if the dispute isn't resolved. The wider trade union and labour movement should visit the pickets which are all day from 7am, just off New Chester Road roundabout in Birkenhead, opposite the Rock retail park (use the postcode CH41 9BP to navigate).

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 26 January 2018 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube


triangle14 Aug Victory: NHS workers say no to privatisation

triangle8 Aug The fight against Labour's Blairites and TUSC's role now

triangle8 Aug Break the pay cap - the fight continues!

triangle8 Aug Antisemitism slanders against Corbyn

triangle7 Aug Turn the heat on the bosses not the bus drivers!

triangle7 Aug No to Tory plans for radioactive waste under national parks

triangle7 Aug Birmingham home carers strike

More ...


triangle9 Sep Manchester: NSSN pre-TUC rally

triangle15 Aug Salford Socialist Party: Israel/Palestine - mass struggle and BDS

triangle15 Aug Hackney & Islington Socialist Party: Immigration - A socialist approach

triangle16 Aug Waltham Forest Socialist Party: Global warming


Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551


What we Stand For

About the Socialist Party

Our 2015 election manifesto

Joining the Socialist Party - what will it mean for you


Alphabetical listing

August 2018

July 2018

June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018