The campaign to defend Rob Williams, the sacked Unite convenor of the Linamar factory in Swansea, stepped up a gear last week with a 200 strong rally and the launch of a ballot for industrial action.
The rally was attended by a number of Visteon workers, fresh from their victory against Ford, as well as workers from Bridgend Ford and Swindon Honda. There were also numerous local trade unionists representing the CWU, PCS and FBU unions, and many others.
The rally followed the shocking decision of Linamar bosses to uphold Rob’s sacking, which had previously been suspended after over 100 workers at the plant downed tools in protest.
Andy Richards, Wales regional secretary of Unite, described the sacking as “the worst case of victimisation against a trade unionist I have seen”.
Andy went on to say that Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley, upon arriving for negotiations at the plant, had been told by management that Rob “will not be working for Linamar by the end of the day”.
The factory was formerly owned by Ford and then Visteon until it was sold to the Canadian car parts manufacturer Linamar Corporation in 2007. The management have accepted that Rob has not broken any rules and that the dismissal was due to a “breakdown of trust and confidence”.
The convenors from both the Basildon and Enfield Visteon factories spoke, thanking Rob for his support in their dispute and pledging theirs for him.
Rob spoke about how the sacking had come just weeks after the company had tried to pressure him into recommending an attack on workers’ terms and conditions.
“This is a company that notified its workforce in Canada of a 10 percent pay-cut by email. Now they want to be able to do the same kind of thing here.”
The rally was followed by a 150 strong protest outside the factory gates on Sunday afternoon. The protest was addressed by politicians from Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats.
A group of workers came out of the plant to offer their solidarity with Rob.
Tony Woodley told the Unite national march for jobs in Birmingham last Saturday, “In South Wales Rob Williams has been sacked. The company is riding roughshod over union members. Over my dead body is this union not going to fight for our people.”
The result of a ballot of workers at the plant for strike action will be known next week.
Send messages of support to firstname.lastname@example.org Make cheques payable to “TGWU branch 4/1”, c/o 31, Waun Wen Terrace, Swansea SA1 1DX or pay into Unity Trust Bank, sort code 086001 account number 20055051