Where are our leaders?
THERE WAS an angry mood at a mass meeting of Wiliam Cook's foundry workers in Sheffield on Saturday. The workers know they need to step up their action, and want to know what the union is doing about it. Some 90 AEEU members are locked out for fighting a pay cut. Their boss is flouting the law by sacking them and taking on casuals.
The danger now is that, if the action is not stepped up, wage cutting and union busting will spread to other engineering employers across the city. But the ballot of workers at the Greensands Foundry, part of the same complex, has been declared null and void after a legal challenge from Cook's.
A reballot will now take around five weeks. "Look, I'm crossing picket lines every day," said a Greensands worker to AEEU officials at Saturday's meeting. "I'm a union man, and I've always been told you don't cross picket lines. What's going on?" The union branch treasurer demanded to know, "Where is Sir Ken Jackson? Why hasn't he made this national news?"
To which someone else chipped in, "Yeah, I've had three letters from him trying to sell me insurance!" Regional AEEU official Derek Simpson must stop insisting Greensands workers cross the picket lines. He should be on the picket insisting the lorries don't cross, boosting the strikers' confidence. And where is the support from New Labour?
Local MP Richard Caborn would only meet with two strikers last week, and says he will "look into the accounts of the company". David Blunkett says he will meet with strikers towards the end of the month-no hurry there, then!
A solidarity rally was to go ahead on Thursday of this week, with a William Cook's shop steward and Mark Serwotka, general secretary elect of the civil servants' union PCS. A Socialist Alliance benefit gig also raised 155 for the strikers last week. Other workplaces in the city have done collections, and local schoolkids even donated their dinner money!
- Send messages of support and donations to Eddy Grimes, 116 Richmond Park Crescent, Sheffield S13 8HG.