Cumbernauld workers facing axe could strike

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More than 80 workers facing redundancy at the Cummins Diesel factory in Cumbernauld are to ballot for strike action as industrial relations plunge at the plant.

Unite the Union has confirmed that the voting process is now underway at the site in Napier Place and the result will be announced within a fortnight.

Feelings continue to run high at Cummins after the company confirmed the closure of its manufacturing operations after a 90-day-consultation period - that has since been branded a sham.

The company insisted that it was no longer financially viable to retain the plant but workers do not agree.

And if their ballot is successful, then strike action and action short of a strike, including an overtime ban, is expected to take place from late February.

However, the backlash to the closure has not merely come from staff.

Trade unionists and the Scottish Government have claimed that Cummins has repeatedly failed to engage with alternative options to keep the site open.

In a series of negotiations last week it was claimed that Cummins steadfastly refused to enter into dialogue with Unite through the conciliation service ACAS and rejected plans to diversify the factory’s operations through the development and production of hydrogen cell batteries.

The company also wants to close the factory before autumn, prior to alternative plans being brought forward.

Unite regional industrial officer, Pat McIlvogue, said: “Our members have been left with no option but to hold an industrial action ballot.

“Over the last few days the company has refused point blank to engage with Unite in talks through ACAS .

“It has also rejected the Scottish Government’s efforts to diversify the factory’s operations even with financial assistance.

“Unite members remain defiant and they are prepared to take all action necessary to secure some form of justice from this callous company.”

Meanwhile Cumbernauld MP Stuart McDonald and his Scottish Nationalist colleague Jamie Hepburn released a joint statement slamming Cummins - that reinforced the notion that the company would not listen

It reads: ‘We regret that this situation has reached the point where industrial action including a strike is now likely to proceed.

“Ultimately, this is due to the failure of Cummins to provide genuine engagement with all parties including Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Government, and of course their workplace representatives, Unite the Union.

‘It is therefore clear that there is an easy way for Cummins to avoid such action, and as a result avoid potential monetary loses and negative impacts on their chain of operation, and this is for them to come to the table and discuss options going forward which include keeping the plant open with a new and diversified model of working.

“We will continue to push Cummins to reconsider their decision.

“And we will remain in contact with all parties in order to provide constituents with updates as often as possible.”.

The Cumbernauld News and Kilsyth Chronicle contacted Cummins at their head office for comment but were told that a full statement would not be forthcoming at this stage.

A spokesperson explained: “At this stage Cummins won’t be commenting any further because negotiations are ongoing.

“It is also because the company wishes to focus on supporting their staff at the plant.”