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24 March 2021

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Engineering workers strike against 'fire and rehire' in Leicester

Engineering workers' picket in Leicester. Photo: Steve Score

Engineering workers' picket in Leicester. Photo: Steve Score   (Click to enlarge)

Steve Score, Leicester Socialist Party

Workers at SPS Technologies in Leicester have taken strike action against the company's 'fire and rehire' assault on their terms and conditions. These attacks could mean them losing up to 3,000 a year. The engineering company supplies parts to the aerospace industry and is using the Covid-19 sparked downturn as justification.

It is owned by the multibillion-dollar US Precision Castparts Corporation, whose holding company is Berkshire Hathaway, which has one of the richest men in the world - Warren Buffet - as its CEO.

Socialist Party members supported the picket lines, along with Kumaran Bose, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate in the North Evington by-election, and spoke to the Unite members. A large number of workers are involved in the picket lines, attending in shifts. They expressed anger at the company and the fact that the managing director is not taking a cut in his inflated salary, while they would have to struggle to pay their bills and mortgages on significantly less.

They have been on the picket line at the same time that, elsewhere in the city, British Gas engineers have also been out against the fire-and-rehire attack on them. Far from being 'all in it together', it is clear this tactic is becoming a generalised attack by bosses on workers' living standards under the cover of the pandemic.

Tony Cattermole, Unite Convener, said: "This is our second of four one-day strikes. We don't accept the new terms and conditions that are part of the company's fire and rehire. We are talking and want to reach agreement. But it is disappointing, because last year we had 200 redundancies and we have worked all through the pandemic. They have been after our terms and conditions for four years. Why choose to do it now? Clearly the managing director has made the pandemic his excuse.

"We hope it doesn't come to it, but after the four days of action we are planning an eight-week solid strike.

"Fire and rehire is a scare tactic. I feel sorry for those who aren't in the union and don't have our support. We had about 180 members here before this; now another 30 have joined. Through strength and solidarity, we are able to fight this."

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RMT picket at Nottingham station - East Midlands Railway dispute - Sunday 13th June, photo by G Freeman

RMT picket at Nottingham station - East Midlands Railway dispute - Sunday 13th June. Photo G Freeman

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