Thousands of workers at the Longbridge MG Rover car plant in Birmingham are balloting on strike action. Both the TGWU and Amicus unions have agreed to ballot their members in a fight over bosses' attempts to get workers to accept more 'flexible' working arrangements.
The ballot of TGWU members began on Monday of this week. This is the first dispute since the giant Longbridge plant faced closure in 2000.
The ballot comes after workers overwhelmingly rejected two separate management pay offers, despite union leaders recommending acceptance. Bosses derecognised Bill Mitchell, a shop steward in the paint shop, after he opposed the pay offer. Workers walked out unofficially when they heard of this. Management has also circulated an insulting memo saying, 'There are people here not prepared to fight for our success.
'We will be establishing an outplacement service on site should any of you require assistance in finding alternative careers.' 'They're opening up a job shop on site,' one Longbridge worker told Socialist Worker. 'It's outrageous. When they do these kind of things you have to fight back. 'I thought people would back the pay deal, but they were so angry with it that they voted against it.'
'We've been losing breaks, bonuses and working longer hours for years now,' says another Longbridge worker. 'The company's still making profits. The workers saved Rover. Management are getting £2,000 rises while workers are losing out on £1.50 a week. I always thought it was them and us, and it is. We need an uproar through the unions.'