Ken Jackson's disgrace over William Cook's
By Sam Ashman
SIR KEN Jackson, leader of the engineers' and electricians' AEEU union, spoke out this week. He made headlines when he called for no-strike agreements for public services, just as the AEEU's conference was beginning in Blackpool. What does he think he is playing at?
Why did he not speak out in defence of his own members at William Cook's in Sheffield, some of them returning to work this week fearful that if they did not they would be sacked? Some 90 workers at Cook's were locked out after taking official strike action. They struck legally but were told they could only return to work if they signed an agreement giving up their rights.
Cook's flouted New Labour's regulations and began sacking workers before even New Labour's flimsy legislation allows. Yet Richard Caborn and David Blunkett-both Sheffield MPs-sat back silently and did nothing.
From Monday of this week Cook's could begin to legally sack workers. Boss Andrew Cook has now completely closed down the IMF Foundry where some of the strikers worked. He has announced redundancies at the Greensands Foundry which is still working.
And he has set up a scabbing operation by opening up another outlet in Sheffield and moving machinery there. It is a disgrace. William Cook's is walking all over the AEEU, the fourth biggest union in the country, and Ken Jackson says and does nothing. The Sheffield AEEU official told strikers they must not break the law and that they must play it by the book.
But playing by the book has got Cook's workers nowhere. Those who have not returned to work are still picketing, with only industrial tribunals to look forward to in November. Cook's workers should lay the blame for the course of their dispute firmly with Ken Jackson and their AEEU officials. Cook's workers could have won, but their own leaders would not let them.
- Rush messages of support and donations to Eddy Grimes, 116 Richmond Park Crescent, Sheffield S13 8HG.
WORKERS AT Dynamex Friction Dynamics in North Wales should learn serious lessons from the William Cook's dispute. The 108 TGWU members are also locked out. They are picketing 24 hours a day, but they cannot win unless they get solidarity from other workers across the TGWU. Some Dynamex work goes to car plants across Britain. Workers need to appeal directly for blacking, and not rely on the promises of their officials.
- Send messages of support and donations to Barry Williams, 33 Llys Y Foel, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, North Wales.