The four-week delay in implementing redundancies at Cammell Laird, matched by Unite and GMB with a four-week suspension of strike action, is not the end of the struggle to save jobs at the yard, although it has saved the 291 workers expected to be made redundant from receiving redundancy notices just in time for Christmas! It was only the bold action taken by the workers which forced this temporary reprieve on plans to slash 40% of the workforce, and workers will do well to look to their own tactics for organised resistance in 2019.
The ‘task force’ hastily assembled to mediate in the dispute, roping in the unions, bosses, local and central government with the mayor of Liverpool as the cherry on the cake, collectively recognised the need for the yard to “remain competitive in bidding for new and future work” and pledged to “work together to ensure this remains the case”. It is clear that for the bosses this means shedding jobs, cutting back labour costs and weakening the bargaining position of the skilled workforce by bringing in agency staff.
Workers are not responsible for the global overproduction in the shipbuilding industry which has sharpened competition and driven weaker competitors to the wall, and are right to resist all attempts to make them pay with their jobs for a capitalist crisis not of their making.