Workers from Mayr Melnhof Packaging (MMP) in Bootle, near Liverpool, protested outside the Austrian embassy in London today, Friday, against their treatment at the hands of the Austrian-based firm.
The protest follows the company’s announcement that it intends to permanently close the factory, making more than 170 workers redundant.
The workers, who are members of the Unite union, have been locked out since February after taking industrial action against 49 redundancies.
“All the new announcement has done is put us all in the same boat,” said MMP worker Graham Manley.
Workers have been picketing the factory round the clock to stop bosses moving out stock and equipment. “We estimate there’s more than £3 million worth of board in there,” added Graham, “plus advanced machinery worth millions and millions.”
Terry O’Connor has worked for MMP for more than 20 years. He said “We’ve made millions of pounds for this company.
“But we hear the bosses say it’s the right site with the wrong workforce. They want people who won’t stand up for themselves.”
Unite is running a “leverage” campaign, appealing to MMP’s clients to enforce their ethical standards policies. They had workers on the protest dressed as Kellogg’s mascots.
“It’s about keeping up the pressure on the company,” explained Unite’s north west regional officer Phil Morgan.
And workers have received support from their colleagues at MMP sites in Europe and around the world—including some secondary industrial action in Chile and Tunisia.
Crucial to the dispute will be the company’s other British site, at Deeside in north Wales.
Workers had planned to ballot for action over redundancy agreements, but called it off after verbal assurances from the company.
And when Bootle workers went over to talk to their Deeside colleagues, the company responded by putting on extra security.
This shows their weakness.
One worker said “I’m appealing my redundancy, but that’s a sham when they’re closing down the factory. We need to get over to Deeside and disrupt things.
“We need to get our message to the workforce. And it wouldn’t take much to stop wagons getting in and out.
“We’ve tried to play it by the book so far, but I think the gloves are off now.”
Community picket of MMP Deeside
Saturday 31 March, 11.30am-2pm
Mayr Melnhof Packaging, Fourth Avenue, Deeside Industrial Park, CH5 2NR
Send messages of support to the MMP Bootle workers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send donations to Sogat Process Fund, account number 50823171, sort code 20 10 84