Union leaders threaten industrial action at Stamford engineering company over closure plans

Union leaders have warned of industrial action in the battle to save jobs at a leading engineering company.

Wednesday, 22nd November 2017, 10:35 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 10:35 am
Cummins Generator Technologies, in Barnack Road, Stamford.

OffIcials at Unite the union are preparing to ballot members at Cummins Generator Technologies, in Stamford, which is looking to close one of its two sites in the town with the possible loss of 300 jobs.

The union says it is holding the ballot, which is likely to take place before Christmas, on the basis of a lack of consultation.

They claim managers have refused to meet with the union’s national officer for engineering, Linda McCulloch, to discuss the workers’ future.

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She said: "“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 has 500 staff in Stamford and 200 in Peterborough, announced in October that its Barnack Road site will close in October next year with the possible loss of 300 jobs.

It aims to create a centre of technical excellence at its Ryhall Road site employing 150 staff.

Unite says that following the announcement, the company has offered a one-off £3,500 deal for the workers to accept the closure of Barnack Road. It says 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.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.

She added: “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 CEO of Cummins Inc. Tom Linebarger criticising the local management for ‘refusing to engage on a proper basis with our union’.

A spokesperson for Cummins said: “Consultations with our staff are ongoing, and as such, we cannot comment about the specifics of our discussions or how they are progressing.

"However, our first priority is to support our staff through what we know is a difficult period.

"As such, we are taking every effort to engage with our staff and to listen.

"This includes being open and available for discussions with Union representatives and other stakeholders, and we will continue to be so throughout the consultation period and beyond.

He added: “This has been a difficult decision, which has been driven by the fact that despite everyone’s efforts, the Barnack Road facility remains uncompetitive. It has not been affected by Brexit or the performance of the UK economy.”