Bosses at the Wabtec rail refurbishment factory in Doncaster have announced a plan to cut 450 jobs in several waves, starting in August and running through to March 2021. The cuts would halve the workforce.
The plans are now out for consultation, and responding should be quick and easy: not one job should go! RMT has already issued a statement opposing the cuts, now we need shopfloor organisation to prepare action to resist them.
Wabtec is based in the USA, where it is one of the 500 biggest firms in the country, with a turnover of $8 billion. Its books must be opened so unions can scrutinise bosses' financial case for the job cuts. If there is really a budgetary imperative to make cuts, why not cut senior bosses' pay rather than frontline workers jobs? Wabtec says commercial factors mean it has to "realign" production at the site, but why should the needs of profit come first? Britain needs an expanded, green rail network to confront the climate crisis - there is no shortage of work rail engineers could be doing. If Wabtec don't back down, then in a more rational world, the government would step in, take the factory into public ownership, and ensure production meets social need.
Sadly we don't live in that world, but if Wabtec workers stand firm, supported by the rest of the labour movement, and prepare to take whatever action necessary, then perhaps we can impose a small degree of that rationality on the chaos of the market.