Archive | Aerospace and Shipbuilding RSS feed for this section

'Monumental’ trade union recognition in Ayrshire aviation giant

1 Jun

Workers in GE Caledonian Aviation have voted in favour of trade union recognition following a ballot conducted though the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC).

Unite now has a legal mandate to bargain collectively on behalf of the 750 workers employed at the Prestwick-based plant who service and maintain aircraft engines.

Today’s result confirmed by the CAC is the culmination of a year-long and often tense recognition campaign.

Unite Scotland’s Senior Organiser Rozanne Foyer said, “This is a fantastic result achieved through the sheer hard work and perseverance of our members in GE Caledonian – it’s been a monumental effort to achieve this recognition.

In a time of great economic uncertainty, the workforce has moved to protect and advance their terms and conditions of employment in the most effective way possible; through a recognised trade union that bargains collectively. 

Unite has long-established and positive working relationships with many employers in the industry, including other GE Aviation sites in the UK. 

We welcome the further growth of Unite within GE Aviation and look forward to continuing our proud tradition of progressive employment relations across the aviation sector.”


 Notes to Editors:  For further information please contact Unite Regional Organiser Willie Thomson on 07810157910


Unite and OU programme at Rolls-Royce a huge success

21 Mar


Unite has had a successful lifelong learning programme at Rolls-Royce for some time, providing union members with opportunities to gain new skills.

Over the past few years, the union has been working with the Open University and the employer to deliver Bachelor of Engineering degrees (B Eng) to members. The delivery has been innovative, with workplace learning groups supported by tutorial surgeries held at work.

The environment of supportive peers created by the learning groups has paid off. The programme has been evaluated, and the significant findings include:

  •  Retention in 2011 was at 94% compared to an OU average of 58%
  • Progression at 100% compared to an OU average of 78%
In addition, students have been scoring very highly on their tutor marked assignments, with many achieving at distinction level.
We believe this is an excellent example of good practice, and shows how solid partnerships can deliver effective skills programmes.
You can read the evaluation report below.

OU Rolls-Royce evaluation

CSEU Scotland Shop Stewards Conference

7 Mar

Please see details below of a CSEU shop steward conference.

CSEU Conference Details

Special report from Malawi – urgent action required

10 Aug

– by Aisha Bahadur

19 dead after violent disruption of civil protests in Malawi – urgently solidarity needed. Send a message to the Malawian government today.

MCTU General Secretary, Robert Mkwezalamba is harassed by security forces at the July 20th protests.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has launched a campaign to condemn the violent repression of civil protests in Malawi that left 19 dead, including a 13 year old boy, as a violation of human rights. ITUC has called upon President Bingu wa Mutharika to respect the right to protest and engage in meaningful dialogue with civil society. Several global union federations, national centres and trade unions have given their support to the ITUC campaign. You can add your voice to the online campaign hosted by Labour Start.

Nationwide demonstrations planned by civil society for July 20th turned into two days of riots after the Malawi government tried to prevent the demonstrations from taking place. According to a report from senior leader of the Malawi Confederation of Trade Unions (MCTU), radio announcements were made on the morning of 20 July that an injunction had been obtained by government to prevent the demonstrations but this injunction was vacated by the court by lunchtime the same day. People that had gathered for the demonstrations were being held back by police that used tear gas and live ammunition to disperse protestors in Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu. Anger mounted from the brutal put down of the demonstrations erupting in two days of riots, which has left 19 people dead and scores more injured, including several children.

There has been growing dissatisfaction in Malawi with President Bingu wa Mutharika’s regime. Civil society has been critical of laws that have been passed to limit the freedom of the press, restrict lawsuits against government and limit civil liberties. Popular discontent has been mounting over worsening economic conditions with crippling shortages of fuel and foreign exchange.

The MCTU leader explains that workers have been hard hit by the economic crisis. Shortage of foreign exchange means that companies cannot bring in raw materials and parts which have resulted in job losses. With fuel shortages and high prices for fuel and foreign exchange on the black market, cost of transport has become prohibitively expensive and the basic goods have become unaffordable.

The situation in Malawi worsened after Malawi expelled the British high commissioner Fergus Cochrane-Dyet in April 2011 after a British diplomatic cable was leaked which said President Mutharika was “becoming ever more autocratic and intolerant of criticism”. In response Britain expelled the Malawian high commissioner and suspended US$550 million in aid over the next 4 years.

Britain had already reduced its support to Malawi in protest of the government’s purchase of a luxury jet exclusively for the president. Prior to the protests, other donor countries also withheld aid with rising concerns on repressive laws and mismanagement of funds. This has worsened since the July repression actions, with the US suspending aid of US$330 million following the protests. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world with more than 70% of the population living on less than a dollar a day and millions of people will suffer the consequences of worsening donor relations. Malawi is heavily dependent on foreign aid, with donor funding accounting for 40 percent of government’s budget, thus alienation of donors have added to the countries economic woes and intensified the foreign exchange crisis.

Organised labour came together with about 80 other civil society organisations, to arrange the 20 July protest marches in Malawi’s cities on 20 July, intended to be peaceful and within constitutional bounds. Despite the brutal police crackdown, protestors took their demands to local district commissioners and called on the President to address these demands by 16 August 2011 or they would return to the streets.

Protests which were intended to remind the President that he was elected by the people and was accountable to the people have shown Mutharika to be unwilling to heed their calls. The day after the protests, Mutharika recognised the need for dialogue with civil society but now seems unwilling and has since resorted to blaming civil society for the riots and deaths, increasing his dictatorial stance by threatening to put down any further protests against his rule saying “If you go back to the streets, I will smoke you out”.

“If you go back to the streets, I will smoke you out”.

It is rumoured that the ranks within the security forces are disgruntled with shuffling in top security posts in the country after the protests and riots. The army chief commander was replaced but has been retained in government as the national security advisor. Government has not linked these changes to the violent actions of security forces, instead it has openly supported these actions.

There is also discontent amongst civil servants, the majority of whom have not received their July salaries. Government, the largest employer in Malawi with about 162,000 workers, insists that this is due to network upgrading and not a result of dwindling cash flows that many suspect are a result of the donor pullout.

Whilst many of the local civil society leaders, including labour leaders, feared for their lives, having received threats, civil society organisations, including the MCTU, have kept up the pressure. The MCTU is one of eight organisations that has appealed to the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute Mutharika for the 19 deaths. They insist that plans for a follow up demonstration on August 17th are intact given the lack of commitment by government to address the demands.

Local church leaders have also been vocal about the unwarranted violence at the demonstrations. As one journalist points out, in Malawi the church is social media, should people be called on to protest again it is expected that they will come out in great numbers.

It seems that Mutharika may be bowing to pressure. On August 9th, when opening the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Africa region meeting being hosted in Malawi, Mutharika announced the formation of a Presidential Contact and Dialogue Committee. The proposed committee would allow for social dialogue on challenges facing the country. Mutharika also called on ruling parties in Africa to listen to constructive criticism from opposition.

Opposition leaders in Malawi are sceptical of these proposals, saying that talk is not enough, they need to see action. How civil society will reacts to Mutharika’s proposals remains to be seen. It may be too little, too late; in which case civil protests planned for August 17th may go ahead.

Aisha Bahadur provides communications support to the African regional office of the International Metalworkers Federation.

MAHLE Kilmarnock Learning Agreement

24 May

Pat Rafferty Scottish Regional Secretary for Unite signed a learning agreement between Unite the Union & MAHLE Engine Systems on the 23rd May 2011 at the MAHLE Kilmarnock plant.

Regional Secretary Pat Rafferty & Jim English Site Manager Sign Learning Agreement

Unite the Union -Scotland’s largest trade union – is delighted to work with MAHLE a leading global development partner for the automotive and engine industry and one of the biggest employers in Kilmarnock.

The learning agreement will facilitate a joint learning programme between Unite & MAHLE. The learning program will be run by Unite’s Union Learning Representatives (ULR).  The ULRs at the Kilmarnock MAHLE plant that employs’ five hundred and forty seven people will offer opportunities in learning that will enable workers in MAHLE to start a journey in Life Long Learning.

The range of accredited courses that members can undertake will range from all levels of ICT, Languages, Literacy/Numeracy Brush up Your Skills, Pensions, Home Budgeting, British Sign Language, Open University courses, City & Guilds courses etc.

The learning will be delivered within the MAHLE factory; at shift friendly times in an environment the workers are both comfortable and familiar with. This is part of an innovative project by Unite and MAHLE to bring new learning opportunities to the workplace.

Pat Rafferty Unite Regional Secretary said: “I am delighted that our members at MAHLE will now get the opportunity to take part in Unite’s Life Long Learning program thanks to the work of our Union Learning Reps and the agreement negotiated by them and MAHLE management. Hopefully now our members can race forward with their learning”

John Hawkshaw Unite Convenor & Union Learning Rep for the MAHLE Kilmarnock site said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the workforce at MAHLE Kilmarnock to learn new skills or develop the skills they already have through the wide range of education courses and training activities that the Life Long Learning programme provides.”

Alison Bryson MAHLE Human Resource Manager said: “I am very pleased to be involved in introducing Lifelong Learning on the site. I’m a firm believer in a partnership approach with Unions and this joint initiative will result in us offering shift friendly learning delivered on site and will increase both our employees’ skills and their confidence”

Jim English MAHLE Site Manager said: “A key milestone has been jointly agreed through our Lifelong learning program within Mahle Kilmarnock. It is now within the reach of our employees to realise their full potential through embracing this fantastic opportunity”

The ULR’s at MAHLE have within 3 months of their ULR training have had major success in a short period of time. The ULR’s lead by Site Convenor Johnny Hawkshaw have successfully negotiated the setting up of a Lifelong Learning Steering Group that meets fortnightly.The Steering Group oversees the Learning Strategy on site and is made up of Site Convenor, Lead ULR,  Unite Regional Learning Organiser, ULR on rotating basis, Site HR Manager, Site Manager & 2 Production Managers.

The ULR’s have negotiated a Learning Agreement that facilitates an office for Lead ULR Robin Brodie, an on site learning facility for course delivery. The ULR have developed a workplace survey which they have distributed and collected, a result of this was the first ICT course commenced on site at the start of May.

Well done to our 5 ULR’s from Mahle; Johnny Hawshaw Convenor; Robin Brodie Lead ULR, Clare McAvoy, Derek Barcaly & John Kay.

3 of the Best: MAHLE ULR Derek Barclay, Clare McAvoy & Lead ULR Robin Brodie


John Malone: Learning Journey to a Degree

8 Apr

– by Pat McIlvogue

Profile of a Unite union learner: John Malone

John Malone is an ordinary working class family man with all the usual stresses and strains that modern life brings to a family. Having been away from learning for over two decades there was a real apprehension and fear for John to return to learning: Am I too old to learn? Can I spare the time? Can I afford the cost of learning? Can I face returning to an educational institution?

These barriers to learning that existed for John were removed by that fact that all of John’s learning was done within his workplace of Rolls-Royce Inchinnan through a workplace learning programme that is provided by Unite the Union, the Open University and Rolls-Royce.

The Unite the Union lifelong learning programme in Scotland gave the opportunity to return to learning to members in John’s workplace who have been away from learning for many years. The learners like John who attended courses provided by Unite would not have returned to learning due to previous bad experiences at school or college or had been away from learning for so long that they would not have had the confidence to return to a learning environment. The learning that John undertook was brought into his workplace at Rolls-Royce Inchinnan by Unite arranged around their rotating shift patterns, delivered in their workplace in a familiar environment alongside people that they are comfortable with.

John has been part of Unite’s learning programme at Rolls-Royce Inchinnan since early 2007. In that time he has taken part in the following courses: Introduction to Conversational Spanish in 2007 provided by Stow College’s TUC department. This course gave John the confidence to return to the learning environment and gave John the learning bug. John continued learning this time with an ICT course PC Passport. PC Passport was an 18 month course due to John’s shift patterns. PC Passport incorporated Using Computers Stages 1, 2, & 3.  John started PC Passport in August 2007 and completed it in 2009, all the ICT courses that John undertook were delivered in his workplace around his shift pattern by Stow College’s TUC department.

John then undertook European Computer Driving Licence modules from October 2009. Having built up reasonable ICT skills John felt confident enough to embark on a degree in Engineering  with the Open University (BEng) in February 2010. To date John has passed all of his tutor marked assignments- John’s average scoring for the tutor marked assignments was 84%. John also passed his end of year exam with flying colours. These achievements now supplement John’s qualification from his apprenticeship and youth which include City & Guilds in Mechanical Engineering, City & Guilds CNC Basic Programming & City & Guilds Quality Assurance Part 1.

The Open University course that John is undertaking is made up of the usual distance learning with the addition of on site tutorials and support at John’s workplace of Rolls-Royce. This Pathway to a Degree programme is part of Unite, Rolls-Royce and the Open University’s learning programme at Rolls-Royce Inchinnan that facilitates opportunities in learning within the workplace for learners who would not have had them otherwise.

The learning programmes that John has undertaken in the last 3 years have made John a more confident person. They have also facilitated a development in his work role as well as his personal life. John has been empowered through learning to take on additional roles within his workplace team at Rolls-Royce Inchinnan.

John Malone is a living, breathing role model to all that you are never to old to return to learning. John has been an inspiration to others in his workplace to follow his road back into learning. John is now looking to put something back into learning by taking on some part time tutoring. The enthusiasm that John has shown for learning demonstrates that ordinary working people who work unsocial hours can get back into learning despite having been decades away from learning.

John Malone is a role model in learning for Unite the Union and John’s story is being cascaded out to other trade union members not only in Unite but across all trade unions in Scotland to encourage others to get back into learning.

If you to would like to embark on a Learning Journey please contact your local Union Learning Rep or Regional Learning Organiser.

Open University Pathway to a Degree programme at Rolls-Royce

7 Apr

– by Pat McIlvogue

Unite members at both Rolls-Royce Inchinnan and Rolls-Royce East Kilbride factories are undertaking an Engineering Degree programme with the Open University. We currently have a total of 30 members on the programme, with 18 at Inchinnan and 12 at East Kilbride.

The programme was developed to give our members opportunities to continue their journey in lifelong learning. It enables members who had served their apprenticeship but for various reasons could not carry on their vocational learning. This programme give members the opportunity to get back into learning and fits into the progression path that Unite provides for its members through our Lifelong Learning department in Scotland.

The results from this unique pilot programme have been fantastic with all members passing their monthly Tutor Marked Assessments and their end of year exam all with high pass marks. The Unite/Open University programme differs from normal Open University programmes; members on this programme enjoy all the usual support that the Open University gives to students but also benefit from one to one, face to face session with tutors within the workplace, group tutorial work carried out at the Glasgow Caledonian University on a Saturday morning, peer support groups within the workplace and Union Learning Rep support within the workplace. These support mechanisms have ensured a wonderful retention rate with drop out of students on the course significantly lower than normal Open University courses.

The progress of the programme is monitored by a Steering Group consisting of Unite Learning Organiser, the Open University Lead Tutors, Open University Business Manager, Rolls-Royce HR Business Partner and Rolls-Royce Production Leader. This Steering Group is a further support to members where any issues with the programme are managed.

The degree programme is funded through a Collective Learning Fund, with contributions from Rolls-Royce, Skills Development Scotland and the learners themselves.

Unite’s Lifelong Learning department in Scotland is set for further talks with the Open University to see what other sectors and employers that we can roll out this successful model for our members in Scotland. We will keep your workplace ULRs informed of developments – be in touch if you would like to be part of the programme.