WORKERS WHO were unfairly dismissed from the Friction Dynamics car parts plant in Caernarfon have voted at a meeting to end the picket on 19 December. But they have vowed their fight to get compensation from American-born owner Craig Smith will continue. The workers have been continuing heroic defiance of the management for over two years.
In 2001 TGWU members at Friction Dynamics voted by 91 percent for a week-long strike. It was called after working conditions deteriorated at the plant. Impossible work targets were constantly being set, and attempts made to break existing agreements with the former owner of the factory.
Following the week-long strike, workers returned to find they had been locked out and 50 temporary staff had been recruited to fill their places. The workers were offered a return to work package which involved a 15 percent pay cut and no change to the proposed new work patterns. After eight weeks of stalemate, management told workers to return to work or face dismissal. On 29 June 2001 the strikers were issued with dismissal notices.
After a long legal battle workers were vindicated when an industrial tribunal unanimously decided they had been unfairly dismissed. However, the fight for compensation continues. Friction Dynamics was placed in receivership in August 2003 only to reopen a few days later as Dynamex Friction-still owned by Smith! There could be no clearer demonstration of how the law still supports employers and laughs in the face of justice for trade unionists. The workers can be extremely proud of what they have done, but if they do not win then it will be a gross defeat for trade unions.
TGWU leader Tony Woodley should be campaigning now for effective action to get justice in this case.