THE BITTER stand-off disputes at three Rolls Royce aero-engine plants, where workers are continuing their weekly two-day strikes, look no closer to being settled.
Five hundred research workers at East Kilbride are fighting to keep their jobs in the face of company attempts to transfer their work to Derby, while at Coventry and Bristol the battle is against enforced six-day working and pay cuts.
On Wednesday around 50 workers from East Kilbride and Coventry’s Ansty aero-engine section picketed the company’s annual general meeting at the plush QE2 Conference Centre in Westminster. The mood was very determined, and the strikers are pleased by the excellent response from their fellow workers to the £2 weekly levy in their support.
However, while some of the pickets said that the main purpose was to gain publicity, the leaflet issued to shareholders from East Kilbride’s joint shop stewards’ committee stated that the reason was “to ask you, as a shareholder concerned with future profitability of Rolls Royce”, ... to oppose “the breaking up of this unique and outstanding team ... renowned for its loyalty ... East Kilbride is consistently the company profit centre ... A business case for closure cannot be made ...”
This kind of appeal can never be successful. Whose advice will the profit-seeking shareholders take: the workers’, whose main concern is their own jobs, or management’s, whose only motivation is profit?
The leaflet implies that Derby workers are somehow less deserving of the work. But surely, if workers are to resist the company attacks, the solidarity achieved through the levy must be built upon?
David Little, a union activist from East Kilbride, told the Weekly Worker: “We are consistently reviewing our tactics. We are in a very determined mood.” Winning tactics have to depend on the workers’ own strength and unity, not on appeals to managers and shareholders to see sense.