‘Betrayed’ workers at Stamford engineering company threaten industrial action

“Betrayed” workers at Cummins Generator Technologies in Stamford Lincolnshire are threatening industrial action, following the recent announcement that a major site in the Lincolnshire town will close.

The Unite union says it is now gearing up to hold an industrial action ballot of its 370 members in protest at what it is calling “the continual lack of consultation by management”.

The ballot, expected before Christmas, comes after the company announced that the Barnack Road site will close in October 2018 with the threat to 300 jobs.

However, 150 people could be employed at a centre of excellence in Ryhall Road in the town.

Since the news broke last month, the company has offered a one-off £3,500 so-called ‘transition’ deal for the workers to accept the closure of Barnack Rd. Unite says that because of the strings attached, the workers regarded the £3,500 as unachievable.

This was rejected in a ballot by Unite members by 96 per cent – the union was seeking £15,000, given the lack of similar highly skilled manufacturing jobs in rural Lincolnshire.

Unite is holding the industrial action ballot on the basis of a lack of consultation, as the bosses have refused to meet with the union’s national officer for engineering, Linda McCulloch to discuss the workers’ future.

Unite national officer Linda McCulloch said: “The workers feel deeply betrayed by the company and have little faith in the management when it comes to the future of the Ryhall Road site.

“The ‘transition’ deal was accompanied by threats and bullying that if the workforce did not accept the package, the number of workers at Ryhall Road would be cut to 90 from 150. This completely unacceptable threat has now been withdrawn.

“There has been no real consultation and the company has refused to meet with senior Unite officials. The management’s behaviour is not what you would expect from modern employment relations in 2017, especially when the future of some 300 workers and their families hangs in the balance.

“In 2010, our members put forward radical pay proposals on the understanding that this would safeguard the future of Barnack Road, which has been a manufacturing site for nearly a century.

“These proposals included pay freezes for the majority of the workforce and pension cuts. Now all these sacrifices appear to have been in vain.

“The company, which makes alternators for GenSets in the power generation business, appears to be blaming the state of the UK economy for its actions. They will move production to Romania. The mayor of the Romanian city Craiova, where the production will move to, has cited Brexit for the decision.

“What our members are seeking is enhanced closure payments if the Barnack Road shuts; restitution of the seven years of pay that was given up by them in 2010 in the mistaken impression that this would safeguard their livelihoods; and copper-bottom guarantees as to the future viability of the Ryhall Road site.”

Recently, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey wrote to the American chairman and chief executive of Cummins Inc. Tom Linebarger criticising the local management for “refusing to engage on a proper basis with our union”.

Cummins currently employs 500 people in Stamford.