An industrial action ballot is on the cards after bosses at Wabtec in Birkenhead unveiled plans to ‘fire and rehire’ 130 workers on inferior pay and conditions. Unite the union said today (Thursday 17 February).

The company has issued notice outlining its plans which will see ‘fire and rehire’ dismissals in June. Unite said that the company is proposing to reduce rest breaks, and also remove elements of washing time, that the workers have had in place for years.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “We will not let these plans at the profitable Wabtec site stand and our members have Unite’s full support for any steps they take to defend their jobs.  Wabtec’s management must understand that Unite has always fought back against ‘fire and rehire’ and we are fully prepared to do so again here.

“We call on the company to withdraw these threats immediately or face industrial action. This attack on our members’ terms and conditions is completely unacceptable.”

Unite said that its members at the site, which is an international manufacturer and supplier of equipment for the railway industry, would proceed to a strike ballot unless the management withdrew the proposals that would affect 130 Unite members employed in various roles, such as assembly fitters,  trainers, strip and clean operatives, storemen and team leaders.

Unite regional officer Steve Gerrard said: “We have arranged a meeting with our members for Wednesday (23 February). Our elected shop stewards have explained that there is a real depth of anger at the management’s behaviour, given all the hard work that our members did during the pandemic.”

Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will fight back against any efforts to diminish workers' living standards.


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

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Unite is the leading union in the UK and Ireland, dedicated to defending and improving members' jobs, pay and conditions. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.