Cammell Laird workers hold mass walk-out today to defend their jobs


cammell laird.png

Workers at the Cammell Laird shipyard on Merseyside face the loss of almost three hundred jobs – just after the company won a new £619 million contract. Unions have accused the company of seeking to increase its casualised workforce and pad its profits.

Today the shipyard’s union members will show solidarity in a mass walk-out at 3pm to draw attention to the company’s actions and the increasing move by employers toward casual labour with greatly reduced protections and benefits.

Union members voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action in a recent ballot.

If you are within reach and able to join the workers in their protest, please go to Cammell Laird at Campbeltown Road, Birkenhead CH41 9BP to show solidarity.  If you can’t get there, then send them a message of support on Twitter via the hashtags shown above and tag in Unite North West.

Cammell Laird declined to comment.

The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.

If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.


  1. The ‘Casualisation of Labour’ has always been a problem for workers, but I trust that Unions & the Labour Party may now eventually ‘do something’ under a Labour gov’t. Terms & conditions of employment have always been under attack by the Tories, but the Blair/Brown gov’ts ignored the problem. Part-time workers have always been treated as 2nd class, even by Unions, as a more ‘flexible workforce’ is the mantra of employers. Wages are stagnant; poverty is a reality for the working class & the ‘gig’ economy is a social norm, as ‘free money’ flows into the coffers of banksters & big business via Quantative Easing & Zero interest rates. There is something seriously wrong with how society is organised; definitely not for the benefit of people, particularly the poor.

    1. Unions have a patchy history – mostly in the vanguard of socialism but often regressive in their attitudes to women, minorities, part-time workers and other unions.
      I intend no reference to this thoroughly-justified dispute when I express the hope that a Corbyn government will take all necessary steps to prevent unions indulging in the competitive differential-leapfrogging wage bargaining jamboree that cost Labour s̶o̶ ̶d̶e̶a̶r̶l̶y̶ EVERYTHING in the ‘seventies.

  2. The question never seems to arise as to why we need private companies whose sole intention is to exploit their workers. The cycle of low pay and redundancy increases profits whilst does nothing for the economy. Profits are offshored in tax havens and so does not enter back into circulation where the wealth was created in the first place, indeed the whole question of profit should be considered here.

  3. ” why we need private companies whose sole intention is to exploit their workers.”

    … basically (and I’m no apologist for the excesses of capitalist exploitation) because a totally centralised economy simply puts even more power into the hands of an exploitative power-group.

    See USSR. See China – neither good examples of workers’ paradises, are they?

    The regulated ‘mixed’ economy is pragmatically as good as it gets for real socialism to emerge. It’s the balance between interest groups that is crucial – and we can argue about it, and the mechanisms for producing the best distribution of wealth and power.

    1. Ours and most other countries’ neoliberal economies would be described by themselves as “regulated” and “mixed” while they fight any regulation nearly as furiously as they fight against we socialists with slurs of antisemitism, Marxism, communism, economic incompetence and anything else they can think of.

      It’s no coincidence that these are the economies in which the wealth gap is spinning out of control.

      RH, despite your protestation your statement is identical to those used by neoliberals to “justify” their excesses – that’s pretty much the hallmark of an apologist for capitalist exploitation.

      1. “the hallmark of an apologist for capitalist exploitation”

        Nonsense – a cheap shot. Reminiscent of the ‘progressives’ in ‘The Life of Brian’.

        ‘As soon as this pub closes – the revolution starts’.

        I note that you propose no practical model that might stand up to examination – let alone implementation.

        What ‘neoliberal economies’ might describe themselves as is beside the point.

        What *working* model and *working* strategy do you propose? Who controls the specifics of industry/enterprise? How much constraint on the individual do you envisage? How do you prevent abuse of power? What checks and balances that inhibit the tendency towards concentration of power? Quis custodiet?

      2. ‘Stop digging’???

        Well – that’s a telling answer to the issues. :-). I’ll shut myself into an echo chamber and chant random socialist phrase.

        Sorry, David – but you’re up against the reality v. wish fulfilment conflict. The only wisdom I pretend to is not knowing a simple answer in practical political terms.

        I note the following from Bazza :

        “Brilliant piece in the latest New Left Review arguing (based on the evidence from the US economy) that Neo – Liberalism is in a structural crisis”

        Probably true. But, in the meantime, giving out copies of the NLR on the doorstep isn’t going to recruit many to broadly-based progressive politics. And ideological purity never put bread on the table – especially when it was more interested in alienating rather than recruiting.

        There are limits to accommodation, but if you narrow the base to an increasingly shrinking doctrinal painted corner, the neoliberal establishment will walk all over the rest.

      3. You only pretend to be in favour of socialism here so that you won’t be reviled for the Tory dupe you are.

        You imply with every word that socialism is impractical – “I’d love to see a fair society of course but I’m a pragmatic person and capitalism’s the only system that works, isn’t it?”
        “Socialism didn’t work in the USSR and China therefore it can never work, can it?”
        “Socialism doesn’t stand up to examination, let alone implementation, does it?”

        These are not intellectual arguments, they’re pure assertion – dross fed by Tories to simpletons and given credence only by other simpletons – because there is no intellectual argument that holds up to scrutiny.

        Neoliberals espouse “freedom” and “rugged individualism” to the profoundly gullible because they’re such fine words – who can be against freedom and the right to be oneself?
        They don’t mention that the freedom to which they refer is the freedom of the rich to exploit everyone else.

        The only possible justification for an unequal society – capitalism – is wealth creation and distribution.
        “Trickle down theory” claims that, by enriching themselves, capitalists benefit the rest of us.
        In other words, “No active redistribution is necessary, it’ll just happen naturally.”
        Their problem today is that the wealth gap is increasing almost geometrically therefore “trickle down” is broken – observation has falsified the theory.

        Capitalists resist all attempts by governments to regulate the “freedom” of the markets they hold sacrosanct – markets which nobody can deny have repeatedly broken our economies since the Tulip crash and the South Sea Bubble – ie since their inception.

        My response to the breakdown of the social contract is, “Behave yourselves. Starve us or otherwise oppress us and we’ll wake you in the middle of the night with firebrands and pitchforks.”

        What’s yours – “Please can I have a little more, Sir?”

      4. So, RH, capitalist exploitation is fine, so long as it’s not excessive? Where’s the “practical model” that measures this?

        Our deregulated economy, post Thatcher, is essentially and literally a casino. I don’t see how addressing this necessarily points us in the direction of a “totally centralised economy”. I’m not an expert in these matters, but that sounds like an excessively polarised assertion to me. Rotzeichen makes an important point about the responsibilities of employers towards their workforce and indeed the country that produces that workforce.

  4. Ship repair facilities can be needed at any port worldwide – governments of maritime nations should logically be required to ensure permanent provision of those facilities.
    It’s skilled work and keeping skilled workers depends on providing them an adequate income – casualise their employment and they’ll find permanent work elsewhere.
    The 100 “apprentices” Cammell Laird said they’d be employing (when the contract was announced) would, in traditional apprenticeships, be mentored by at least 100 of CL’s 300 skilled workers – that may or may not be a separate issue but I’m curious to know whether these are real apprenticeships or “modern apprenticeships” more about keeping service industry wages down than about training.
    Historically it was understood that an apprentice-supervising skilled man’s productivity would be somewhat reduced by the time spent training – I doubt that will be the case here.

    The £619 million is, according to the BBC, a Navy contract – I suspect the Navy might prefer their vessels to be refitted by fully-skilled workers untroubled by worries about redundancy or loss of hours rather than by brand new apprentices.

  5. Solidarity to the workers and typical greed from the owners in a society (led by the Tories) captured by Neo-Liberalism’s drive for cheap labour!
    Brilliant piece in the latest New Left Review arguing (based on the evidence from the US economy) that Neo – Liberalism is in a structural crisis and add to this the arguments by Wolgang Streekt that the rich and powerful ‘Haven’t a clue what to do and quantitative easing is only buying them time.”
    But we know what to do – with state-led public investment (feeding the private sector supply chain) & ending austerity & pay freezes will put more pounds in peoples pockets to buy goods to stimulate the economy.
    But the crisis of Neo- Liberalism may explain why Far Right US Billionaire Barbarians are pouring millions into Far Right parties and individual “Useful Idiots” Barbarians around the World (including here) – these political morons try to divide wonderful diverse working people and thus help the rich!
    I had a great talk with an old Leftie trade unionists and in the 1970’s he used to go into a pub where the national front went and he debated with them winning the softer elements away from the hardcore political morons – this is what we need to do with the EDL,Football Lads Alliance -etc. try to engage – wean the conned from the Barabarians – nip Barbarianisn in the bud!
    “The old order is dying.
    But the new cannot be born.
    Perhaps we are all being tested.
    And only the stars will ride the storm.”
    Socialist solidarity & X for diverse working people!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: