Wabtec engineering staff in strike vote

Industrial action ballot on cards as rail engineering giant Wabtec plans to ‘fire and rehire’ 130 workers

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An industrial action ballot is on the cards after bosses at Wabtec in Birkenhead unveiled plans to ‘fire and rehire’ 130 workers on inferior pay and conditions. Unite the union said today (February 17).

The company has issued notice outlining its plans which will see ‘fire and rehire’ dismissals in June. Unite said that the company is proposing to reduce rest breaks, and also remove elements of washing time, that the workers have had in place for years.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “We will not let these plans at the profitable Wabtec site stand and our members have Unite’s full support for any steps they take to defend their jobs.  Wabtec’s management must understand that Unite has always fought back against ‘fire and rehire’ and we are fully prepared to do so again here.

“We call on the company to withdraw these threats immediately or face industrial action. This attack on our members’ terms and conditions is completely unacceptable.”

Unite said that its members at the site, which is an international manufacturer and supplier of equipment for the railway industry, would proceed to a strike ballot unless the management withdrew the proposals that would affect 130 Unite members employed in various roles, such as assembly fitters,  trainers, strip and clean operatives, storemen and team leaders.

Unite regional officer Steve Gerrard added, “We have arranged a meeting with our members for Wednesday (February 23). Our elected shop stewards have explained that there is a real depth of anger at the management’s behaviour, given all the hard work that our members did during the pandemic.”

Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will fight back against any efforts to diminish workers’ living standards.

By Shaun Noble

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