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From: The Socialist issue 1123, 3 March 2021: Not a budget for the working class!

Search site for keywords: Strike - Workers - Unite - Yorkshire - Pay - Anglesey

RAF Leeming strike escalates

Picket line at RAF Leeming. Photo: Yorkshire SP

Picket line at RAF Leeming. Photo: Yorkshire SP   (Click to enlarge)

Over 50 workers on a Babcock Aerospace contract for operational and engineering services at RAF Leeming, north Yorkshire, have been taking discontinuous action since 20 January, escalating to two days of strike action at a time.

Management refuses to accede to the demands for shift pay parity with workers doing similar work at RAF Valley on Anglesey, a difference of up to 5,000 a year. So the workers, organised in Unite, are escalating to three days' strike action a week from 2 March.

Most of the workers are ex-forces, and as one worker told me on the picket line on 23 February: "Striking doesn't come that naturally to us, it's taken quite a lot to force us to get to this point". Another striker explained more bluntly: "Management don't give a shit about us!"

The workforce remains solid, with a sizeable proportion of those on strike each day joining the picket lines. The position of the workers will be boosted by the newly awarded contract for maintenance of Hawk training jets for the Qatari Emiri Air Force in the hanger directly next to the Babcock workers. This contract pays better rates than those the Babcocks workers are on, and many workers will be considering applying for those jobs.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party Yorkshire

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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