Why JCB workers voted for pay cuts

From this weeks’ issue of The Socialist:

JCB – Why should we accept redundancies and pay cuts?
Workers at JCB’s UK factories have voted by a two thirds majority to move to short time working, from 39 to 34 hours a week. This will mean a pay cut of over £50 a week.

A JCB worker
Short time will last a minimum of six months. The ballot conducted by the GMB gave workers two options. Either vote to stay at 39 hours and see 500 redundancies or vote for short time and only 170 redundancies. Death by hanging or the firing squad.

430 jobs have already been lost since August this year. It is not surprising that given these options, workers have chosen to keep their jobs. JCB chief Matthew Taylor said: “The ballot shows the tremendous unity amongst the workforce. They have looked after the needs of one another rather than the needs of the individual”.

Many workers asked if the directors were prepared to take the equivalent pay reduction. It seems that the unity does not stretch that far. The result does not reflect the real anger that exists amongst the workforce at having to pay for the present economic crisis with job and pay cuts.

Much of the anger is directed at the role of the GMB. In some cases no meetings were held with the workforce at all. Workers have had no chance to discuss the issues let alone put forward any alternatives to job and pay cuts and in protest many are now saying they will pull out of the union. Demands for the joint shop stewards’ committee to stand down have been raised.

The joint shop stewards’ committee said it was pleased with the outcome of the ballot. And scandalously it is now calling for the office staff who are salaried and not affected to follow the lead and take a reduction in hours and pay. The situation could worsen in the months to come as manufacturing industry could be devastated by the unfolding recession. What will the position of the GMB be then?

Why should we accept redundancies and pay cuts? JCB has made millions in profit in recent years as a result of the economic boom. Where has all the money gone? Workers at Ford in Southampton and low-paid civil servants are fighting back in the face of the economic crisis. Where there is a fighting leadership workers will feel confident that they can defend themselves against the attacks of the bosses. And real unity can be forged.

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