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13 July 2012
Unite, Britain's biggest union, has called for the creation of a global network of trade unions to campaign against poor industrial relations at global aero engine giant GE.
Unite raised its concerns about problems with GE in the UK over pension changes and union recognition rights at a meeting of IndustriALL, the global union federation for manufacturing industries, which met in London this week.
IndustriALL has 50 million members worldwide and has pledged to create a global aero engine group to assist Unite in tackling GE.
Unite national officer for aerospace & shipbuilding, Ian Waddell, said: "GE is the biggest manufacturer of aero engines in the world and it has a significant presence in the UK. Unfortunately, the company has a poor track record of working with unions in this country. We are consulting our members over industrial action in response to pension changes the company has made that will see member contributions virtually double.
"GE totally failed to talk to us about those changes in any meaningful way. We have also called in Acas to try and help resolve problems with union recognition at one GE site in the UK where our members voted for recognition, but the company has been obstructive."
Unite hosted a meeting of the industriALL global aerospace committee in London this week, timed to coincide with the Farnborough International Air Show. The union federation has set up a global aero engine working group to co-ordinate trade unions across the world in their efforts to improve industrial relations in the industry.
Mr Waddell said:"GE has a massive global footprint and is a huge employer in the USA. IndustriALL will be helping us to work directly with our sister union the IAMAW in the USA and with other unions around the world to put pressure on GE to deal with unions properly. Problems here in the UK could well lead to problems for GE across the world. I sincerely hope GE will do the right thing and engages with us positively here in the UK or there is a real danger of co-ordinated action at GE plants across the world."