‘Betrayed’ workers at Cummins Generator Technologies in Stamford are holding an industrial action ballot as Unite claims their bosses continue to refuse to enter into constructive talks.
The ballot follows the announcement in October that the Barnack Road site in the Lincolnshire town will close in October 2018 with the threat to 300 jobs.
Unite, the country’s largest union, is asking its 370 members whether they wish to take strike action or industrial action short of a strike. The ballot opens on Friday, December 22, and closes on Friday, January 12, 2018.
The company has indicated 150 people could be employed at a centre of excellence in Ryhall Road in the town.
The company had offered a one-off £5,000 so-called ‘transition’ deal for the workers to accept the closure of Barnack Road. Because of the strings attached, Unite believed the £5,000 figure was unachievable.
Unite regional officer Scott Lennon said: “We are holding an industrial action ballot of our 370 members as we have hit a brick wall in trying to negotiate in a constructive fashion with this intransigent management.
“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.
“The main objective is for the company to do the right thing with an understanding of and respect for the sacrifices that our members have made over the years to keep Barnack Road open.
“Also, we are seeking gold-plated guarantees that the Ryhall Road site has a viable future when Barnack Road finally closes.
“Our members have expressed 100 per cent solidarity with holding the ballot and that the company needs to do the decent thing in listening to their concerns – it should not be forgotten that that skilled engineering jobs in rural Lincolnshire are in short supply.
“We want the management to get around the table for meaningful discussions that meets our members’ concerns and ensures a smooth transition with the closure.
“Unite will keep all communications open with the company and will exhaust all avenues in resolving this dispute.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey had written to the American chairman and CEO of Cummins Inc. Tom Linebarger criticising the local management for ‘refusing to engage on a proper basis with the union.
A spokesman from Cummins said: “We recently announced plans to restructure our operations in Stamford, which includes investment of £6million at our Ryall Road facility to create a centre of excellence employing over 150 people.
“Since then we have conducted a comprehensive process of consultation and have worked extremely hard to help our employees through what we know has been a difficult time. This has included identifying people to transfer to our new facility in Stamford, looking to find jobs for people at other Cummins facilities, and offering a generous package of payment and support for anyone who cannot be offered ongoing employment.
“We recognise that this is a challenging time for our staff, who remain our top priority. Contrary to some reports since the announcement of the downsizing the company has been available to consult on a daily basis with the Union and will continue to do that moving forward.”
Cummins currently employs 500 people in Stamford. It has been based in Barnack Road for 50 years.