Efforts to undermine #CammellLaird strikers pt 2: the petition

On Wednesday evening, the SKWAWKBOX published evidence of a coordinated campaign on social media to undermine the efforts and credibility of GMB and Unite members at the Cammell Laird shipyard on Merseyside as they take action to defend their jobs.

The accounts involved are brand new and appear to have sprung up almost exclusively with the purpose of cluttering or attacking pro-strike threads and accounts.

There is another facet to efforts to undermine the workers – and in particular those organising them – in the form of an online petition page started by a manager at the shipyard:

petition orig.png

The page claims that ‘us (even some who ARE members)‘ of unions are not ‘allowed‘ a voice on ‘the same platform‘ – but does not explain which platform – and seeks to justify the company’s decision to announce hundreds of redundancies just after it won a £619 million contract.

The petition site echoes a page on the company’s website, which claims that ‘many‘ Cammell Laird workers are against the strike but ‘have felt without a voice‘:

cl against.png

However, in spite of its claim to be ‘giving some of those within the Cammell Laird family’ of workers the ‘opportunity to air their concerns’, since its publication over a week ago, the page has featured only two – one the manager who started the petition and the other a receptionist for the company’s directors.

A litany of abuse

But the description of the petition is not the main area of concern. In spite of only gathering some hundreds of signatures in over a week, the comments section contains hundreds of comments, many of them anonymous or even claiming to be from the targets of the abuse – including huge numbers of extremely personalised attacks on the same two union officials targeted by the suddenly-created Twitter troll accounts.

A small selection is shown below:

petition comments 2petition comments

The comments are not merely abusive. The list is populated by copy after copy of the exact same wording under different claimed names – each claiming to be from a local business owner:

identical cl.png

Each exhorts others to copy and paste the message – but the comment’s claim to be from a local business owner makes a nonsense of this.

The SKWAWKBOX contacted the petition owner, who is a project manager at the firm:

Ms Gough,

I’m preparing an article on the strike and your petition, with a particular focus on comments in the petition in relation to the Malicious Communications Act, which West Mids Police describe as:

Malicious Communications is [sic] where someone sends a letter or any other form of communication that is indecent or grossly offensive, threatening, or contains information which is false or believed to be false. The purpose for sending it is to cause distress or anxiety to the person it is sent to.

An offence of Malicious Communications occurs as soon as the communication is sent, and does not even have to be received by the intended person. It is the sending and intent of the offender which counts as an offence.

As creator and therefore moderator of the petition page, please provide any comment you wish to make about:

  • why comments targeting particular individuals in a clearly malicious way have been allowed and why they are still on show up to now
  • the use of the petition as a forum for attacks on striking colleagues when they have been banned by the company from communicating with the media

Ms Gough did not reply. However, the page was subsequently changed to include the following attempted disclaimer:


The SKWAWKBOX attempted to contact Cammell Laird for comment on the above before eventually being referred to a PR company in Liverpool that is handling the company’s media enquiries.

A call was made to this firm, followed by an email asking whether the company supports the petition, will discipline any employees found to be involved in abusive comments and trolling and why there are so few comments on its own page from the ‘many’ workers it says oppose the strike.

No response was received.

SKWAWKBOX comment:

The company’s page and the separate petition site claim that anti-strike workers have not been allowed a voice. However, while striking workers have been banned from talking to media or commenting on social media, those opposed to the strike have the petition and a number of Twitter accounts through which to have their say.


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  1. Trying to prevent strikers putting their point of view to the public is thoroughly dishonest.
    Cammell Laird’s bosses are clearly incompetent – in failing to win enough work to sustain the business, failing to understand that industrial action is inevitable when they cheat their workers, failing to understand the PR disaster their attempts to silence their workers would cause and failure to take the most basic precaution of not copying and pasting their fabricated “groundswell of support.”
    I hear they have a subsidiary company called
    W. Anchors.

  2. Know any friendly lawyers? I am by no means convinced that the disclaimer cuts any legal mustard in deflecting responsibility.

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