Thursday, October 23, 2003

The occupation of Appledore Shipbuilders continues 

Trade Union representatives at Appledore are hopeful of an impending announcement of a new owner. Discussions with the Receivers (Tenon Recovery) are currently taking place with the interested parties.
The security and custodianship of the yard remain with the work force. On-site facilities now include Shop Stewards office, Welfare/Benefits office, and full access for ex employees to attend an on-site programme centre along with advice and debt surgeries.
Donations are arriving at the yard from varying quarters. These monies are being accounted and distributed to the workers who find themselves in severe hardship brought about by 15 weeks of short time working and the failure of the Company to meet their last week’s wages.
Pension contributions were collected from the employees for the month of September but were not paid over by the outgoing Company. Because the Company went into receivership no week-in-hand’s money nor outstanding holiday pay or any redundancy or in lieu of notice payments have been forwarded.
The employees have been told to expect up to a 3 month wait to receive the basic state package. Many employees have been engaged in shipbuilding at Appledore for over 40 years, never once having needed the state benefit system. They now face many months of hardship with only £ 54.56 job seekers allowance to try to manage on.
Even if a new owner is identified in the very near future with the very nature and long lead-in time to any new build programme the vast majority of the work force will be unemployed certainly for the foreseeable coming months. Any donations to the hardship fund should be made payable to APPLEDORE SHIPBUILDERS WELFARE CLUB and can be sent to The Shop Stewards Office, c/o Appledore Shipbuilders, APPLEDORE, N. Devon, EX39 1LX.

Monday, October 06, 2003

The struggle to save Appledore Shipbuilders is ongoing 

In order to allow the workforce to access benefits and statutory redundancy money it was necessary to allow the Receivers in. Today the Yard is advertised for sale in the Financial Times and, according to the press, there are six potential bidders. To all intents and purposes the workforce are still in control of the Yard. A one-stop shop has been established in the Yard by the Trades Unions to assist members with form-filling etc. Hundreds of pounds have been arriving and money is crucial as most of the former workers will not get any income for several weeks.
Tragically, the apprentices at Appledore have also been dismissed. However, AMICUS and GMB are trying to raise finances to allow the young people to complete their training. Today the apprentices have returned for work even though they are not being paid and they are being taught by some of the former workforce who likewise are getting no money.
The need for donations to the Appledore Shipbuilders Welfare Club has never been more important

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Current Situation 

01 October 2003

Over 550 workers employed at Appledore Shipbuilders have been sacked and Receivers have been called into the troubled Shipyard.
Trades Unions have reached an agreement with the Receivers which will leave the Shop Stewards Committee effectively in charge of the site.
Trade Union facilities will carry on as normal providing welfare and support for members.
The future of 32 apprentices looks extremely uncertain due to benefit rules on apprenticeships.
The money for their training could dry up if they sign on. The tutor who teaches the apprentices has also been dismissed.
The Union is desperately seeking support to allow the apprentices to complete their training. The Receivers have been called in to begin negotiations with potential buyers and the former employees could receive statutory redundancy payments only. The reality is that it will take weeks before benefits and redundancy payments come through. Former employees have been on short-time working for over three months and are desperately short of money.

Colin Pettifer, AMICUS Full-Time Officer, said:
“The workforce has been on severely reduced earnings for over three months and now they have no income at all. It is a catastrophe for the individuals concerned. We need money to make welfare payments to those who have been tragically affected.”

Gary Smith, GMB Senior Organiser, said:
“Ironically, since the Receivers came in we have had more information about the problems that face the Yard and the challenges as they go forward. We are now in negotiations with Receivers and are trying to maintain communication through the Shop Stewards’ structure and trying to make welfare payments. We urgently need cash to support our work and are calling on the local community and wider Trade Union movement to send donations to the Appledore Shipbuilders Welfare Club.”

Contact: Gary Smith GMB 07710 618909

Monday, September 29, 2003

What happens on Tuesday ? 

Receivers have now been appointed, they are due to start at 7.30am on Tuesday 30th September.
This coincides with a mass meeting in the yard.
Informed opinion would appear to indicate that a buyer for the yard can be found.
The mood remains resolute and determined. We are not about to allow 400 years of shipbuilding in the locality go down the pan.

Receivers to take over yard 

Up to 700 people lined the entrance of Appledore Shipbuilders on Monday, barricading gates and blocking the main entrance with a digger.
Residents from the nearby village of Appledore joined the protest by demonstrating outside the yard.
BBC News Online story

Local community join the sit-in ! 

Monday has seen members of the local community joining the workforce in blockading the yard.
In other news, a delegation is at Labour Party conference to lobby on behalf of the workforce and we have heard that the company has appointed receivers as of today.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Sit-in at threatened shipyard 

Sit-in at threatened shipyard BBC News Online: 29/09/03

Workers are staging a sit-in at a north Devon shipyard amid fears the site will close with the loss of 550 jobs
The unofficial action at Appledore Shipbuilders, England's oldest commercial ship builder, showed the anger of workers facing redundancy, union leaders said.

Appledore Work In Begins 

The workforce at Appledore Shipbuilders have occupied our workplace in an attempt to save livelihoods.
The ship yard is in Appledore on the River Torridge, North Devon.

The workforce has been on short time working for 15 weeks, taking home 75% of normal earnings when we learned that the yard was to be closed on 30th September.

There has been shipbuilding on The River Torridge for over 400 years.
The loss of Appledore would have a devastating effect on an already ailing local economy.
The loss of the specialised skills at Appledore, the last commercial shipbuilders in England, would truly be economic and strategic madness for an island nation.

Appledore is not a "basket case". This is a viable business with a highly motivated, flexible and skilled workforce. The workforce is determined to preserve the future of the yard through what are short term difficulties.
There is significant amounts of work potentially in the offing and this includes a repeat offer to build a ferry for Caledonian Macbrayne.
If this contract was awarded work could start immediately.

It is recognised that strengthening the management process is vital as we move forward.

Our fight is to preserve the Shipbuilding industry and the heritage and skills that go with it.
An island nation needs a plan for shipbuilding.
Moreover we need to halt the decimation of the countries manufacturing base.
This is not the last roar from a dying industry but a resolute a determined step in creating a viable future.

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