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Strike for union rights at Rolls Royce

manos | 14.08.2005 22:35 | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements

Workers at the Bristol Rolls Royce plant have voted for an indefinite strike, starting on August 22nd, until their dismissed colleague, Jerry Hicks is fully reinstated. Jerry was "probably dismissed on trade union grounds", the employment tribunal found, for supposedly organising unofficial action, influencing the decision of the disciplinary panel (both to support two sacked colleagues), and standing on the way of normal working practices [more details]. The aim of the strike and campaing is nothing short of unconditional reinstatement. But the real target are the anti-union laws that allow employers to criminalise "unofficial" actions. They have been on the law books since Thatcher introduced them, but have also survived two terms of Labour government. Yet when faced with pressures from employers, as Jerry Hicks said, "we never balloted, we always walked out!" [see also Heathrow Airport strikes background].

[Bristol IMC: Updates logo background | Unions: Amicus labournet | Talk in Cambridge: text photos call | Solidarity: photos | The arms trade: RR demo CAAT report | Latest reports 1 2 3 | Video 1]

Walking out.
Walking out.




Hide the following 31 comments

Syndicalism and the New Union Struggles

15.08.2005 08:02

At a public meeting in Coventry on Thursday, July 21 2005 Alan Wilkins spoke from the Platform about his life as a Trade Union activist at Rolls Royce Coventry, and the re-emergence of successful Trades Union activity from the grass-roots. This involves unofficial action, often termed “illegal” by the government and employer. But it is not illegal. It would only be illegal perhaps if a court pronounced it so. In any case the government has moved the goal posts so far on trade union legislation that it has criminalized actions that were acceptable and very reasonable years ago.

Current and emerging industrial and workers struggles are of a new kind. Unions and workers have learned much from the years of defeats including such struggles as the miners strike, and infamous Grunwick dispute.

There are many industrial struggles emerging from the grass roots. After twenty five years of defeats the Union movement is re-organising and moving tentatively towards syndicalism ,with a growing in confidence they can win better conditions and pay for its members and reverse the tide of defeats suffered by workers over the last 25 years under the ideology of new-liberalism. Replacing the New Labour government could be a secondary consequence of emerging trades unions activity and success if they directly support the

Liberals use the law in there favour to control the behaviour and freedom of ordinary people so that they can continue to maintain their high standard of living for working far less hard. And so that they can retain their freedoms at the expense of the freedom of working and poor people. it is a mechanism of further taking from the poor and giving to the rich and privileged.

This process is taking place now because the government has severe financial problems . This means the capitalist must take another slice of wealth from the less well off to retain and sometimes increase their standard of living and keep its supports happy. To achieve this there is a need for new laws to repress and keep the less well off from counter-reacting to this robbery. They use the law then to criminalize any action that might oppose or prevent the government and capitalists from robbing them of what is theirs.

At 76 years of age Alan has been representing workers since 1964. For much of that time he was a shop steward at Rolls Royce Coventry. Several of his fellow trade unionists at the plant had been victimised and sacked over the years for representing workers.

In recent years management would just summarily dismiss leading trade unionists at the plant from time to time. Often they would not even bother to give a reason because trade union laws were altered in the 1990's to limit the compensation given by an industrial tribunal fro unfair dismissal.. This meant they could get rid of a trade union activist at a maximum cost to the employer of about £30,000.

Alan survived because his respect within the plant was very high, and management dared not sack him for fear of repercussions: the workers would have probably just walked out immediately and closed the plant down. Also he retired not long after the new legislation. He is still an activist in the pensioners movement, and involved with trade unions and many other left campaigns.

From the 1960's onwards trade unionists were regularly sacked then blacklisted from getting work at other factories in Coventry: literally "their cards were marked", that's the employment card workers had to carry and present when they applied for a new job.

Often these people had to go outside Coventry to get a job, or set themselves up as, for example, milkmen.

during the 1960's and 1970's Coventry set the bench mark for pay settlements and pay rates throughout the country, such was its industrial muscle and such was the strength of its trade unions. At the time Coventry produced over 25% of Britains total manufactured industrial output.

Alan began his speech or talk by pointing how Blair’s New Labour betrayed Trade Unionism by not repealing the anti-trade union laws brought in by Thatcher’s governments. In fact, he added, new Labour have introduced more.

He contrasted this with the 1960s when Harold Wilson's Labour Party came into power and repealed all the anti-trade Union laws brought in by the previous conservative government.

After elating how many trade unionists had been victimised and lost their jobs over the years, he stated: it was as important today as ever to “Fight for the right of all trade Unionists to elect their own representatives, and be represented.”

This was pertinent in the case of the current Amicus convenor on the Bristol RR Test Area, Jerry Kelly, who has been employed by Rolls Royce for 30 years. He had just been victimised, like so many others in th past, and been sacked.

What happened was that after a strike at the Bristol plant by 100 testers which successfully defended two workers from the sack, Jerry was victimised for representing them. On Wednesday all Bristol Rolls Royce workers walked out and met to decide what action they should take. Their demands are: to reinstate Jerry; Allow Jerry to address all parts of RR; and a ballot at all RR plants for industrial action.

It has been a long time since such a large and important group of workers have walked out to defend their trade union representative. Alan stated that a new generation of trades unionists in their first dispute were leading a resurgence in the power of trade unions.

It seems that enough really has become enough, and that trade unions are re-emerging from twenty five years of being hammered and being legislated against by both Tory and New Labour governments. This has been done to drive down pay, and allow the employee to get rid of workers without repercussions. simple to make "hiring and firing" cheap and easy.

It all began with legislation by Thatcher's government to target the miners in the early 1980's. The miners were so powerful then that they were said to have removed a previous Tory government led by Prime Minister, Ted Heath, from power in 1974. Later Ted Heath was replaced as leader of the Tory Party by Thatcher, in what has been termed by some as a right wing coup, by a new group of ideologically driven right wingers, who were inspired by neo-liberals in the USA. in this country neo-liberalism was christened "Thatcherism". within the Tory party.

That ideology involves the crushing of Trade Unions. Blair took up the neo-liberal (New liberal) ideological banner when he came to power in 1996 and has been following it, and US new liberals ever since.

Alan is passing his experiences to a new generation of trade unionists who are being radicalised by current disputes. Namely, at Rolls Royce, Heathrow Airport, and more significantly too within the public sector, over the "single status" pay and terms and conditions package that the government is trying to implement in Coventry and then roll out around the country. A few years ago a version of “single status” was partially implemented in Bolton. Workers fought back locally without the regional and national support of their trade unions.

Coventry has learnt the lesson of the Bolton struggle and is setting the agenda and leading what is becoming a national fight back against the imposition of swinging pay cuts, redundancies and a huge degradation of terms and conditions in local government employment. Put simple the government must make these cuts because its finances are in a real mess. And also they are preparing all services for privatisation, another part of new liberal ideology. There have already been three days of industrial action and a work to rule.

[See report : ]

What is particularly interesting about the new struggles is that national unions are allowing local unions to operate almost independently. This is a move towards syndicalism and autonomy within the trade union movement. When disputes arise the national movement will move in to support and cross support from other area and "syndicates" can emerge. This move away from the conventional hierarchy of Trade Union decision making can subvert the new laws, and empower local trade unions and activists to act almost independently of national and regional bodies.

There are many industrial struggles emerging from the grass roots. After twenty five years of defeats the Union movement is re-organising and moving tentatively towards syndicalism ,with a growing in confidence they can win better conditions and pay for its members and reverse the tide of defeats suffered by workers over the last 25 years under the ideology of new-liberalism. Replacing the New Labour government could be a secondary consequence of emerging trades unions activity and success if they directly support the immergence of a new left to challenge the new-liberal capitalist consensus that governs Britain.

Edward Campbell

more of this please

15.08.2005 11:46

Good to see something on Unions and industrial relations on IUK: I’ve been noticing there is generally very little on Indymedia about industrial issues but plenty on refugees and peace issues, etc, one could ask the question does nothing else happen in the UK? Is it because the Indymedia team and readers are not interested in such disputes or don’t see them as very important. Because if that is case, then IUK is failing! Millions of peoples are interested in what happens when an union busting American multinational(Atlantic Pacific) sacks part of its workforce after a pre planned management inspired confrontation and I for one would hope to seem more stories/posts about such matters. Maybe then a more diverse readership will come to what is still an excellent site.

. Anyway, here is an article form the Mirror which shows the dirty tricks the parent company planned to provoke the strike of some of the lowest paid and shabbily treated workers in the capital.

From The Mirror

5 August 2005
-Recruit, train, check drivers -Announce to Trade Union -Provoke unofficial strike -Dismiss current workforce -Escort them from premises -Replace with new staff
Exclusive By Greig Box And Graham Brough
A CATERING firm's cynical plot to sack its Heathrow workers so they could be replaced with cheap labour was spelt out in brutal terms.
In a secret internal briefing entitled "Mile Stones" and marked "Confidential", BA's caterer Gate Gourmet declared: "Recruit, train and security check drivers.
"Announce intention to trade union, provoking unofficial industrial action from staff. Dismiss current workforce. Replace with new staff."
The shocking move was part of a 15-week timetable, first mooted a year ago, to provoke workers into striking so they could be replaced with cheap East European labour trained at secret bases.
A steering committee cited the top risk as "potential for wider Heathrow based disruption".
But if the risks were high, so were the rewards. The dossier forecast the £2.5million sacking plan would save up to £6.5 million a year.
An industry expert estimated there could be annual pension savings of up to £7million. US-owned GG made a £26million loss last year and is forecast to lose £25million this year.
Documents seen by the Mirror also prove that catering staff were to be lied to while BA and BAA were to be tipped off weeks before the plot went ahead. It is not known if the tip-off went ahead.
An insider claimed that action like that detailed in the leaked documents culminated in last week's crippling protests at Heathrow.
GG sacked 670 workers following an unofficial stoppage over the employment of 130 casual staff. The move led to wildcat strikes by 1,000 other airport workers which stranded up to 100,000 BA passengers, some of them for several days.
Last week the Mirror revealed that Gate Gourmet launched a new company, Versa Logistics, to counter the threat of wildcat strikes and to hire workers on lower wages.
An insider said: "This is all about pure greed. They deliberately made the workers lives absolute hell, then told them they were outsourcing their posts to spark a reaction. It's a shocking way to treat people."
TGWU shop steward, Sarijit Singh Sandu, declared: "We've always believed the actions were pre-planned. Now we are in no doubt.
"This is what we've feared for some time. We're thankful to the Mirror for exposing the appalling managerial practices of Gate Gourmet. The lengths they've gone to are truly shocking."
The sacking plan was drawn up by a tight-knit team of hard-line businessmen from GG's US owners, the Texas Pacific Group.
They drafted three options. The most dramatic was the "Mile Stones" plan to provoke unofficial action.
Our insider said a solicitor was consulted. The source said: "He said if staff could be provoked into unofficial action they could all be sacked and have no legal redress. It would also mean the company could seek damages from individuals."
Referring to the firm's drivers, the dossier details how staff could be told their working conditions were going to be dramatically worsened, so provoking fury.
Among the threats listed were: "No redundancy packages, no leaving early, no extra pay for extra work, random drug testing, no smoking, eating or drinking in cabs."
The plan also advises how to sack staff. It reads: "Immediate dismissal without legal protection. Collect ID cards, airside passes, locker keys. HR to issue dismissal letters, extra security presence. Security to escort dismissed staff from the premises."
Under the heading "Can we replace employees?" the document lists details of agencies that could recruit staff from Eastern Europe.
It said all staff would be employed into an external company and contracted to Gate Gourmet London.
Gate Gourmet would pay deposits on rented accommodation for agency staff to live in. Rent would then be deducted from wages.
New staff would be offered coach transport from their home country to the UK. The new drivers, mainly from Poland, were to be trained in small groups of around 50 over a six-week period.
We have learned independently that all drivers drafted in last week to replace staff are Polish.
The document said: "To ensure that training does not compromise confidentiality we ensure it is done at a good distance from GG units."
Possible sites included RAF Manston, in Kent, and Blackheath, South East London.
The first eight weeks were to be spent training new workers, arranging airside passes and external PR. At this stage, GG directors were advised to tell BA and BAA of the dramatic plans.
Although rumours would circulate, they should be denied.
The timetable read: "Internal: All communication to dispel the truth should be verbal and through low level supervisory grades. Customer: Verbally at the highest levels we should state our intention. It should be made clear that leaks could disrupt our services.
"External: BAA High Level, assurances of confidentiality to be sought." The timetable then detailed what to do on the day of the sackings. After firing staff, directors were told to "continuously release statements simultaneously through the unions and local media stating our intention to resolve any official action.
"Consistently state our case as being reasonable and willing to reconcile." It added: "Hard line resolve to staff already dismissed." Our source revealed: "This was carefully planned for a year by around 15 men. They met once a week and reported to directors.
"Once a month the Atlantic Pacific directors came over from America for updates. Towards the end they came every week.
"The timetable of action kicked in as soon as Gate Gourmet lost a Virgin contract a few months ago."
Gate Gourmet said last night: "Presentations were made to the new management team in September by the then present team.
"A number of proposals were made, of which this was one. The new management team decided it was a complete nonsense and put it straight into the bin.
"The old management team are no longer at the business. We have not implemented this strategy and have no intention of doing so."
A spokesman admitted that eight or nine new drivers hired by the company were Polish.


Rolls-Royce like Edo

15.08.2005 12:30

let me get this stright we are supporting/highlighting the rights of people who want to join a union
ok i can get down with that like the firemen who save lives, kool.
but supporting the people who build engines that go into bombers that drop bombs on people.
Well indymedia should stop publicising the Edo campaign then as they are giving employment to people just like Rolls Royce are giving employment to people who help the war effort.
Dont you think the right to live is more important than the right to be in a union?

There is a bit of hypocracy in imc-uk at the moment when there are issues like the BA workers strike which went unreported and we are reporting on arms manufacturers going on strike.
hey if people didnt work for RR or Edo or BAe there wouldnt be any arms / bombers to kill people with, simple but true
from the website Rolls Royce
Defence Aerospace business profile
* Number one military aero engine manufacturer in Europe*
* Number two military aero engine manufacturer in the world*
* Powering approximately 25 per cent of the world's military fleet*
* Rolls-Royce supplies engines to many more customers (160) in more countries (103) than any other manufacturer*
* Our operational base reflects our global position
* We have whole engine design, engineering and manufacturing facilities in the UK (Bristol), Germany (Dahlewitz) and the US (Indianapolis)
Combat market
Rolls-Royce is involved in two of the world's two major combat aircraft programmes, supplying hardware and technical expertise for both the Eurofighter Typhoon and Joint Strike Fighter F-35 aircraft.
Rolls-Royce is one of four European aerospace companies that comprise EUROJET, maker of the twin-engined Typhoon's EJ200 powerplant. Along with Italy's Avio, Spain's ITP and MTU of Germany, the UK company has received large-scale initial batch orders for the partner nations' air forces, which ultimately require around 1,500 engine for 620 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.
Rolls-Royce has been involved in the Joint Strike Fighter programme since its inception in 1996. The company worked closely with Lockheed Martin and F135 propulsion system integrator Pratt & Whitney during the Concept Demonstration Phase. Its role has been to provide all key STOVL components, drawing on its unique experience in the field of vertical flight engine design, development and production.
Rolls-Royce is currently undertaking development work on the STOVL system worth more than $1 billion during the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the programme.
Among the STOVL components supplied by Rolls-Royce is the LiftFan, used exclusively for vertical flight, which is driven by a shaft from the main engine.


Dont mean to be bitchy but ...

15.08.2005 18:05

If you’ve never had a job and been pissed around my managers and employers, you probably don't see the importance of Unions and workers struggle.

Most people have jobs. Most peoples jobs dominate their lives; changing the way we produce/work/provide surely is one of the most important aspects of changing the way we can live our lives without oppression, coercion, and being alienated (thanks Marx) by the capitalist system.


so its ok to...

15.08.2005 20:48

So what your saying is "its perfectly ok to spend your day making - armaments, bombs guns etc or the delivery mechanisms to drop bombs or fire missiles including nuclear missiles, if your part of a union, on a decent wage, treated well and have a good pension".

OK so when the british made helecopter gunships, bombers and submarines launch missiles that kill and maim men, women and kids in Iraq, Afganistan and countless other places its OK because the parts were made by british unionised labour.

As you sy Ed " Most people have jobs. Most peoples jobs dominate their lives" but most people dont spend between 6 and 8 hours a day making things that directly contribute to the deaths of countless innocent people.

Would you work in a factory making landmines? that might be better as you wouldnt be contributing to so quite many deaths!(1 landmine = 1 death / 1 bomber = countless deaths maybe?)
And dont think I have a soft spot for anybody higher up the chain of command they are not 'just as bad' but are even worse.
Prehaps if the unions/workers all over the country said we will blockade this factory till you make somthing else then the factorys would produce somthing else, instead of condoning the manufacture of products that contribute to this sad state of affairs.


Dont mean to be sarcatic but ...

15.08.2005 21:10

I think we should get this in perspective. We are talking about IM concentrating a little more on industrial and other workers struggles. We are not talking about supporting industrial struggle in the arms trade. That Rolls Royce supply some engines that are used in panes that drop bombs and fight in wars is true. But they manufacture mainly for the civilian market. Campaigning against the arms trade is very important but it’s a different issue. The two issues are related in a small number of cases. Because Britain is the second largest arms exporter some would say this relationship is greater here.

Workers struggles are taking place in local government. Is there an anarchist argument that goes along the lines: if nobody worked for local government we could do away with it and have a more anarchist society. So IM shouldn’t support the struggle of workers in local government. Simple but true. But also extremely unrealistic.

Anyhow, it’s not the workers who make Rolls Royce jet engines, some of which are not used on civilian aircraft, who drop bombs, its normally combat pilots under the instructions of their governments. It is also not the workers who manufacture airline fuel who drop bombs either. So the solution is to stop making jet engines and airline fuel, is it. Maybe, but I feel that is indeed to simple and unrealistic a solution.

I respect your views if you are a pacifist Zcat. I would also respect a campaign to persuade arms trades manufactures to covert to manufacturing products for civilian use, which CAAT (Campaign Against the Arms Trade) have been involved in.

I feel it is probably best to campaign against governments who start wars, and concentrate on conflict resolution.

I believe we should work against the causes wars; and capitalism is probably the major cause of wars. If the workers a Rolls Royce had control over what they produced perhaps they might stop providing aggressive wart like countries with jet engines that can be used in military planes. This reasoning is not so simple as yours Zcat, but I think it is just a little more realistic in solving the problem of wars.


well i disagree

16.08.2005 10:58

But we are talking about supporting industrial struggle in the arms trade what else is this whole article about.
Supporting industrial struggle within a company that produces arms .
Acording to CAAT RR's contribution to the UK's arms trade is second only to BAE Systems. Around a quarter of its sales are military. It has provided gas turbine aero-engine facilities to 100 armed forces, including human rights abusing regimes such as China, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. and was ranked 17th in the world for arms sales its annual sales was $2,490 million in 2003

How much more arms manufacturing do you want to get?


Missing the point

16.08.2005 13:56

People are missing the point, yes the arms trade is evil, but unfortunately people work in it so when they are sacked for "trade union activities" we have to support them or employers will carry on doing this and in other industries and who will be next you. what if that happens and someone says that the work you do contributes to something awful say the food industry, what would you feel like, let down at least. The point is solidarity with fellow workers no matter their work is i.e the baggage handlers at Heathrow in support of Gate Gourmet workers I am sure some baggage handlers are vegetarians.

Adrian Cannon

solidarity with unions

16.08.2005 15:32

Adrian by saying "The point is solidarity with fellow workers no matter their work is" means we should have solidarity with the police they want unions too and isnt there a law prohibiting them having one? I mean they are workers too and they have shitty employers, the state! you cant get much worse than that can you.


Squaring the Circle

16.08.2005 15:40

Surely we can support the workers without supporting all aspects of the industry?

As with EDO, it's not as if anti-arms campaigners want workers from arms companies thrown on the dole.. we want them re-deployed to socially useful work, don't we?

So by the same token we can back workers seeking decent pay and conditions (and in this case union representation rights) while pushing for the industry they're in to change direction.

In the end it's not as if the workers are saying 'mm we love making bomber engines' - they're just trying to make a living.

Mr Spoon

No I wasn't saying that ZCAT

16.08.2005 18:15

Mnnn. Sharpe intake of breath!

I wasn't saying: "its perfectly ok to spend your day making - armaments, bombs guns etc or the delivery mechanisms to drop bombs or fire missiles including nuclear missiles, if your part of a union, on a decent wage, treated well and have a good pension". You said that and have tried to put the words into my mouth.

My words maybe not as clear as I would like them to be, or my arguments watertight enough to make my point, but I think the above comments by others have sufficiently answered this point as well as I ever could.

I take your comment personally, as an afront to decency and fair play. It's not cricket my boy!
So let me personalise this a little further.

Zcat, my actions speak louder than my words. I spent well over a year supporting an anti-arms trade campaign against Alvis in Coventry. They were making tanks that were being exported to Indonesia and being used for repression. CAAT had evidence that Alvis tanks were being used for repression within East Timor. There was a peace camp outside it for two years in which up to four lived permanently. I did my best to raise awareness and get people to support the camp.

Those at the Peace camp were putting forward proposals and talking to the workers about the ideas of using their skills to manufacture socially useful things. They did this in a sophisticated way. They were pacifists, peace campaigners and anti-arms trade campaigners amongst the group that formed around the peace camp. They fully understood that these highly skilled workers needed to make a living to support families.

These workers were not aware where the tanks were being used and how. The peace camp folks raised awareness amongst them tough. That was very positive; and CAAT did a lot of good work to stop arms going to Indonesia which were being used for repression in East Timor, and for internal repression too..

So Zcat people are doing things, but not in a simplistic way.

Eventually Alvis closed down this factory, or sold it off and the production was transferred.

I know about arms manufacturing because the City in which I live was destroyed by the Nazis because it manufactured massive amounts of arms: armoured cars, tanks and guns; aeroplanes ... and more. There is very little of this left now, and very little left of an old historic Victorian/medieval city.
Every day that I go into the city centre I am reminded of this by seeing the ruins of one of the most exquisitely designed cathedrals.

The peace and reconciliation movement in Coventry has had a huge influence in Europe and around the world, particularly in bringing reconciliation between Britain and Germany after the second world war. They work in Palestine for peace, and they were among the few who busted the sanctions put on Iraq by Britain. But even they would support the Rolls Royce workers. And you are saying we cannot report the industrial struggle of exploited workers.

I have also spent a week or a DeISI, risking a lot to try and do something about the arms trade. What do you do, just sit back and censor news reports?

Also, I'll have you know, the fucking jet engine was invented in this city, by a brilliant engineer and group of technicians and workers who were based in working men's club in the city. They were refused government funding, and their ideas and ingenuity were bought by the USA. Perhaps if they had workers control of capital and production then the world wouldn't be in such a mess now.

So Zcat what in heavens name are you trying to say or suggest. Censor stories on Indymedia about workers who are exploited, repressed and abused, who might just make something that contributes to the arms industry and those products might kill or maim others; or they might produce something equally as nasty like fertiliser that can be used by so called terrorists as explosives that can kill innocent people. Thank god for chuffing fertilizer I say.

What the chuff are you on about mate, and what have you done about the arms industry, apart from cut and paste a little text from the Rolls Royce web-site and make a few bollocks comments.

You must have done a lot, and I for one am interested because perhaps you are right, and have worked this out from years of anti-arms trade campaigning. I really would like to hear because perhaps I have got it totally wrong! Lets hear it then ZCAT! My mind is not closed.


Get back to work and build more weapons

16.08.2005 19:12

Day after day I hear people make excuse about their line of work. "Oh you have to do something to get by said one ex banker " - More excuses -( particularly from rich 'lefties' with bad consciences) and the same goes for murderers, manufacturers of death, coppers, etc etc. That’s what happens when you use a purely ideological analysis.

Its basically - Jobs for jobs sake whether they are unsustainable, unethical, or just plain and simply pointless. LOOK at the BIGGER PICTURE you fucking morons.- oh and by the way don't mention the subsidies to this industry or the fact this country is full of LEECHES whether you have a job or not - we ride on the back of the developing (sic ) nations (sic) and prosper on the death and slavery.

Oh and I've had plenty of shite jobs that are a lot shitter than the ones you are defending in terms of pay and conditions! I am now broke and on the dole but don't think for one minute I would support arms manufacturers or their employees.

The English cowards make us sick.

sick of cliches

Sarcasm bitchyness and rudness get you nowhere

16.08.2005 22:39

Ed so eventually Alvis closed down this factory, or sold it off and the production was transferred and why was that?
Was it because the workers there had gone out on strike to force the managment to start producing bulldozers? Was it because the workers aggitated to change somthing?
Did any of the workers decide that they didnt want to work there after they had been informed where the tanks were going and handed in their resignations?
If they did they have my utmost respect.

I dont have a problem with workers rights (hierarchically structured unions maybe but thats another story) who work in industrial situations and I have done the most mind numbing of jobs myself but I didnt ever make things that took others lives directly or indirectly. (tho i did spend a week moving concrete blocks from 1 conveyer belt to another and you could say they are weapons if you throw them :)

Like the previous poster says people have all sorts of excuses for doing what they do when they know its fundamentally wrong "if I didnt do it somone else would " is a very common one, who also mentioned subsidies, good point how much does the govment pump into companies like RR and BAe ? Come to think of it how much do the unions pump into New Labour?

If all people made a stand then there wouldnt be any arms factories in the country but unfortunatly they dont and the unions themselves are probably the first to try and stop somthing like that happening they dont like people power because it actually works if enough peole stand up and are counted.

So I ask again which is more important the right to a life or the right to be in a union? because in this case that is the real question.


IMC dosnt censor articles
I havent insulted you so why do u resort to that?
I spend most of my free time helping on the IMC project
and where the jet engine was invented is neither here no there


and furthermore

17.08.2005 00:41

in their latest press release the smash edo peeps say, quote-

'Between 4-6pm a demonstration will hear the names of civilian victims of the occupation (mostly children) killed since the Al Aqua antiradar began.
EDO MBM make the VER-2 and VER-4 bomb release unit used by Israeli F16s to bomb civilian areas of Palestine in documented breaches of the 4th Geneva Convention. The protesters say Edo’s employees are liable to prosecution as aiders and abettors of war crimes under the International Criminal Court Act.'

Now im wondering how anyone can justify making these things?
I mean if you make engines for a jet fighter then you know its going to be used in war if you make landmines or bombs or guns you know they are going to be used to kill people. Unless of course you are very very stupid and unfortunatly I dont beleive people are that stupid.


Who's stupid?

17.08.2005 08:58

Zcat: Your assumptions are suspect, your facts are bluured; and you make deductions that are illogical. Also your conclusions lack clarity. You have already conceded that you have no experience of campaigning against the arms trade.

The only conlcuion I can draw is that you arte an Indymedia editor of sorts making disengenuous comments.

Because of this my response to you is: no comment. I do not care what you think of my opinions. I do not care that you infer that I am stupid. However, there is one point that needs clarifying.

In my experience Rolls Royce workers are not stupid? I have met quite a few Rolls Royce workers none of whom showed the obvious signs of being stupid. I have also met quite a few members of the IM Uk collective, including yourself. I could not in all honesty say the same about you lot.


re EDO

17.08.2005 09:24

I'd personally like to see the bosses at edo prosectuted for conduct ancilliary to war crimes and see the workers organised and take over the firm using their skills for constructive purposes ... if there was union activity at edo that would help the anti-edo campaign because there'd be common struggle against the bosses and potential for pressure from the workers to shift produstion to socially useful (or at least harmless and useless!) stuff...

a smashnik

responce to Who's stupid

17.08.2005 11:47

(my previous post was written before I saw Ed's last post)
Well Ed as someone who posts comments.
I dont think I made any assumptions so they cant be suspect and facts by definition cant be blurred and why are my deductions illogical?
Weather I have experience campaigning against the arms trade isnt an issue here.
I am making comments here the same as any other user would I am an indymedia volunteer but that has no baring on my views.
Nowhere did I say you were stupid.
Nowhere did I say that Rolls Royce workers are stupid, quite the opposite. (i said Unless of course you are very very stupid and unfortunatly I dont beleive people are that stupid.)

And now as an Indymedia volunteer.

Well for a bunch of stupid people the indymedia crews around the country have done a pretty good job over the last 5 years IMHO.
Part of what indymedia is about is the dissemination of different views held by people who hold roughy the same principles, read the mission statment.
They have kept up a large complicated website for the use and benefit of others contributing their time and quite often their money to it. The site is run by volunteers who recieve no financial rewards and somtimes get alot of abuse for providing a unique service available nowhere else.

I think you owe us an apology.


A little contradictory

17.08.2005 16:14

I'm not a pacifist, so I don't have a problem per se with people making armaments. It rather depends on what they do with them.

However, given that the general tone of this website is one that has both an anti-corporate and anti-militarist slant, it seems somewhat peculiar that it should be supporting people's "rights" to work for Rolls Royce regardless of what they're doing. What they are doing, in fact, is supporting both corporate wealth, inequality and militarism.

The fact of the matter is that RR does make military equipment and the workers don't control the factories. They're not likely to, either. _ I rather get the impression that 99.9% of the workeres don't care, either, as long as they get a fair deal at work. _ And I wouldn't criticise that in itself either, but there seems to be a broader context that's being missed here.

So what would happen if EDO workers got shafted by their bosses? Would IMCUK carry a story bemoaning their plight?



17.08.2005 23:38

Tesco workers make shit with eccess packaging, Ford workers make cars that pollute the enviroment, heck even the coal miners dug up shit. Fuck I guess i could be held responsible for jobs I have done, I made parts for Nuclear power plants, and later for oil rigs! But support these guys (the ones who have the power to shut it all down), make links as with the dockers (who probably inported all sorts of shit), and we're on to a winner!

A Nother Worker

To all you jobless hippie phony "anarchists"

22.08.2005 14:20

There is a very simple reason to support the RR workers - and the Heathrow workers and the fucking BNFL workers if it comes to that.

It is called WORKING CLASS SOLIDARITY and if any of you lot had the first clue about anarchism, its revolutionary philosophy and its history, then you would not need lecturing by an old fucker like me.

Perhaps if some of you knew what "working" entails, the WORKING CLASS bit might not be so hard for you to grasp either.

Flame this post all you like, but until you get up off your arses and out of your squats and start building bridges with people in the REST OF SOCIETY - instead of smugly pontificating about political purity - we will all be fucked under capitalism.

God, sometimes I'd like to give some of you a good shake!

Campaign for Real Anarchism

Lessons in Solidarity from nimrod

22.08.2005 15:27

1) Calling people 'jobless hippie phony "anarchists"' is a demonstration of nimrod's indiscriminate dedication to the concept

2) Making engines for planes that kill thousands of workers is clearly an act of working class solidarity

3) If you want a better world, obviously you have to get as involved in the murky side of this one as is possible. Anyone who isn't making armaments is therefore not in a position to call themselves an anarchist.

4) There is no alternative to wage slavery - so once you've acquired your job in a factory that makes weapons of deatrh, you have to stay there until its time to draw your government sponsored pension

5) All working class people are clearly tools who are unable to distinguish between a job that makes weapons of death, and a job that isn't fun, nor pleasant, but doesn't contribute to leaving workers in other countries spead thinly across the pavement.

Ho hum - your lunch break is over nimrod - get back to tooling up as many states as possible.......


A Very Generous 2 out of 10 for Ramrod's Working Class Manefesto

22.08.2005 23:50

I’ll try and write in as simple and unambiguous terms as I can, without being too dialectical.

Anyone who can read knows statements 2 to 5 are not true.

1) Could be true or false, or both since it could be an opinion. Not fully understanding it, I give ramrod the benefit of his doubts, and full marks for hypothesis 1.

Negation on its own expresses little if nothing at all. For example, the statement: I am not an elephant expresses little. If it is the case that the statement can be false, then it actually expresses nothing at all. Just like your statments.

Of course, it is the case not all working class people can read. And it is also the case that not all working class people read UK Indymedia. Perhaps this is because IM does not address working class issues, and just concentrates on middle class issues and campaigns. I would assume then that few working class people actually use IM UK, and so closing this circular argument, that's probably why there are no articles on working class issues.

All we get is activists challenging liberal laws that they don't like, and adopting a simplistic non-dialectical approach to issues. Liberals, themselves, do not have opinions on issues outside the liberal capitalist domain. You liberal "anarchists" are liberals with an anxiety conscience arising out of guilt. Or it is just a way of loosening your liberal chains, a kind juvenile rebellion. More trivially just an attempt to be different to your class.

This forces you to have opinions outside the liberal capitalist domain is what makes you some kind of libertarian or psuedo-anarchist. Middle class anarcho-liberals.

You are the active conscience of the middle-class liberals - that is all. You appease their crimes and wilful ignorance. You put yourselves before no-one, no community, other than the community of guilt wracked liberal rebellion that has little contact with the real world.

You are on a spiritual journey of self-discovery. Good luck and I hope you enjoy yourself and find somthing worthwhile. But do not be so foolish as to comment on the working class in such a meaningless way, that is not at all material-politique.


Long words with zero comprehension

23.08.2005 06:53

Point 1 wasn't that difficult to understand Ed. Coming onto a website and calling people names and then berating them for not showing solidarity serves only to undermine the point that nimrod was trying to make.

Points 2 - 5 are rewordings of nimrod's points ..... geddit?

Now we have the rather tragic assertion that working class issues are not reflected on IMC .... ho hum. Of course the working class isn't affected by the war in Iraq, animal abuse, environmental degradation, the shooting of an innocent electician, immigration, the transformation of green council land into yuppie flats, the Gate Gourmet labour dispute etc etc etc.

No, their only concern (according to you and nimrod) is that they have the right to make weapons of mass destruction for the ruling classes.

The rest of your diatribe says more about you than it does about anyone else.


Solidarity with workers in the arms industry

23.08.2005 18:22

Let's be clear - the RR workers at Bristol are in the arms trade - this is the Defence Aerospace division of RR - right at the heart of the beast. So I'm not arguing for solidarity with them by trying to pretend that they're producing something we all admire.

People are leaping from "I wouldn't do job X" to "I wouldn't support person Y refusing to do job X". The logic is bizarre. Surely if you don't want job X to be done then supporting people who are supposed to be doing X but are on strike makes perfect sense? I for one would rather the police were on strike than shooting unarmed civilians. If any of them have the bottle to do it, then good luck to them.

It's also worth knowing that Jerry Hicks is a campaigner. One of the reasons that RR want to get rid of him is precisely because he keeps speaking out against corporate power and war. I think they'd call it "bringing the company into disrepute". Many of us might think that "disrepute" is exactly where the company belongs.

If your attitude when a company at the heart of the war machine victimises someone for standing up to them is "well you should never have worked there" then you're in for a lonely dead-end. If your attitude when his workmates put their livelihoods on the line to defend him is "you're scum", then I'm with them, not you.

How will we ever change the world if we don't build on the positive things that people do - even if we don't agree with every decision they make?


Unianised death squads, the nail industry

24.08.2005 12:07

Unionised death squads and the nail industry. Who have they joined with the East Timorese?

Nice to here that Rolls Royce are supporting the right to membership of a union. What Union do arms manufactures join is I the TGWU. I wonder how they give there annual subscription too, what a boat load of AK47’s and a few ICBM’s. How are them Hawk jets then lads do they do the job. Perhaps your boss’s might try them out on those who chose to defy the law of the boss. That you lads, so it’s good to hear that you have finally figured out what the things you make do. Hey the hard hat, sorry helmet, union HU has some support too. And the general unions for the nail industry GUNI might have there work cut out.


mail e-mail:

Ridiculous contortions

24.08.2005 12:51

Ian A: "People are leaping from "I wouldn't do job X" to "I wouldn't support person Y refusing to do job X". The logic is bizarre. Surely if you don't want job X to be done then supporting people who are supposed to be doing X but are on strike makes perfect sense? I for one would rather the police were on strike than shooting unarmed civilians. If any of them have the bottle to do it, then good luck to them. "

The twisted logic is yours methinks - the strike is to get someone re-instated - not to get the company to make something ethically and socially useful. When tyhe strike is over they will go back to building engines whose sole purpose is the propulsion of killing machines.

IanA:"It's also worth knowing that Jerry Hicks is a campaigner. One of the reasons that RR want to get rid of him is precisely because he keeps speaking out against corporate power and war. I think they'd call it "bringing the company into disrepute". Many of us might think that "disrepute" is exactly where the company belongs."

Agreed that the comp[any should be brought into disrepute - however many of us campaign without being renumerated by Rolls Royce and without contributing to the manufacture of killing machines.

IanA: "If your attitude when a company at the heart of the war machine victimises someone for standing up to them is "well you should never have worked there" then you're in for a lonely dead-end. If your attitude when his workmates put their livelihoods on the line to defend him is "you're scum", then I'm with them, not you."

Cool - go post on a Rolls Royce employees site then. You and them can commiserate together over the fact that anti-milatirism campaigners don't support those who actively contribute to fuelling militarism.

IanA: "How will we ever change the world if we don't build on the positive things that people do - even if we don't agree with every decision they make?"

When they do do something positive, I'm sure many will support them. I'm delighted that they're not making engines for killing machines at the moment - but that doesn't change the fact that within a short space of time they will be.


The working class is the only *revolutionary* class

24.08.2005 23:33

It's not a question of what the workers make: they have little choice in the matter as it's the bosses that own the companies. Workers have to sell their labour to earn a wage to pay the bills, food, raise families etc.

The point is that as a *class* they participate in collective, associated labour, and their struggles have the potential - through acts of solidarity and defence of common interests - to take on a mass character that calls into question the political domination of the bosses and their state. Some of the most radical workers in the Russian Revolution were those at the Kronstadt naval base and arsenal! The mass strike in Poland 25 years ago started in the Gdansk shipyard.

It's only the development of these isolated strikes into a mass movement of strikes taking on a political character that offers humanity an alternative society without war and the need to produce weapons in the first place. It's capitalism that causes wars that need armies and weapons in the first place, not workers. It was the mass strike in Russia 1917 that forced the end of the First World War!

- Homepage:

RE: classymethingy

01.09.2005 01:15

That thing about the working class being the only revolutionary class, and capitalism being the cause of wars? Look at history, boy. We've had wars long before we've had capitalism. And how do you think the middle class got into power in the UK? That's right. Revolution.

Can people stop reworking Marx now, please? It's hardly relevent (aside general context, which I imagine everyone knows... he is Britain's favourite philosopher, says radio 4), we are talking specifics.

It's not an easy answer, whether to support the workers of an arms company or not... my father works in such a company, so it's particularly difficult for me. I think it's a shame that there is no peaceful work for these people to do. It's a shame that a principal drive for technical innovation in this country has been war. I'm not saying we should accept it, but saying the employees are responsible for government and company policy doesn't necessarily follow.

As for why my father is in his job, the answer is simply because the only people who are offering jobs for his field in this country are arms manufacturers. He's waiting for them to begin making nuclear power stations again, so he can get out (he's not comforted by his particular line of work). These workers are victims, not to the same degree as those who die resulting from their use, but victims nonetheless.

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Your father's bum

01.09.2005 08:11

" my father works in such a company, so it's particularly difficult for me. I think it's a shame that there is no peaceful work for these people to do."

Seeing as "number of people employed in producing arms for export is less than 0.3% of the workforce" that is patently bollocks.

black rod

RE: black rod

02.09.2005 02:20

Yes, I should clarify there. When I said that, I didn't mean that there was absolutely no option for these workers, I meant it was a shame that somebody was expected to do it -- which is a different thing enitirely, I admit. I wholely agree that it's unnecessary and doesn't benefit most of the people in this country.

But that is entirely missing the point, that is that the company should take the responsibility for its actions, and if it's prepared to reap the benefits, it should take the criticism. Not the people who work for them (who play no role in the company's decisions).

mail e-mail:

Sticky Subject

02.09.2005 08:57

Great dicussion of a great article. Interesting class comments.
It's a topic that frequently turns up in my life and is a very divisive one.
I am an english teacher in France and as such, I am NOT working class.
Anarchism has always had a link to the freelance middle class people (since the 18th century). I personally have lost 2 jobs because I refuse to teach people involved in the arms trade. Yes, I'm a hypocrite because I don't do the same with oil industry workers but for me, Nuclear Missiles was too far.

Does this contradict RR workers who are NOT in the same freelance condition as me?
Union solidarity is vital and I personally support them 100% but I take the point of the moral question very seriously. There SHOULD be a kind taboo against working in the arms industry. Unfortunately, there isn't one.
I personbally hope that in the future making weapons will have the same shame as being in the slavery industry has today (this was quite acceptable 200 years ago).

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