TRADE UNIONISTS joined a march and rally in Sheffield on Saturday in support of the Cook's workers who have been involved in a two-year dispute. The foundry workers were sacked in 2001 while the 90-strong workforce was taking official strike action over pay.
Ken Jackson, the right wing former leader of their AEEU union ousted by Derek Simpson, was leader of the union when the workers felt they had no alternative but to pursue their fight through employment tribunals. One of them, Eddy Grimes, spoke to Socialist Worker: 'We have been told we'll get a decision from the employment tribunal by the end of July. There were 37 workers involved.
'Today has been the first opportunity to get out on the streets. We wouldn't have even got this rally if Jackson was still in charge.' Around 200 joined the march with union banners representing workers from major manufacturing workplaces.
Derek Barlow, a senior AEEU-Amicus steward at Land Rover in Solihull, told Socialist Worker, 'The way these people have been treated is diabolical, having to wait two years for a tribunal. I'm glad we finally have a general secretary that is really taking up their case.'
Simpson, the AEEU-Amicus leader, and the newly elected TGWU leader, Tony Woodley, were warmly received at the rally. Both referred to the 'awkward squad' label that has been attached to the new breed of general secretaries. 'We are no longer the awkward squad. We are the majority squad,' said Woodley.