A strike by around 270 car component workers at Dura Automotive Systems in Llanelli, South Wales, has won an extra £3.2 million from their multinational bosses.
The workers began what they declared would be an indefinite strike last week to get decent redundancy money when their jobs go later this year.
Dura, which produces car cable control systems, is due to close at the end of 2006.
The action was sustained by lively picketing, with around 100 involved at times.
Despite the company bringing in other workers, reportedly from the Czech Republic and the US, the strike soon had an effect.
Instead of the statutory minimum redundancy money which was originally on the table and would have cost the company £800,000, Dura has been forced to offer a package worth £4 million.
“We’ve raised our pay off fivefold, that’s not bad!” one striker told Socialist Worker.
“I think it was very important we said it would be an indefinite strike. It meant they could not just ride it out after a couple of days.”
The original offer was an insult to workers who have given decades of their lives to the plant.
People who have worked there for over 30 years, like shop steward Phil Hiorns, stood to get as little as £6,000.
“It’s disgusting the way we’ve been treated,” said picket Mandy during the early stages of the strike.
Public support was brilliant and helped keep the strikers’ spirits high.
Bynea, where the plant is sited, is a tightly-knit community.
Llanelli has a proud tradition of supporting workers in struggle, from the railway strike of 1911, when workers were shot dead by troops, through to the steel workers’ and miners’ strikes of the 1980s.
Like many parts of South Wales, the area has been hit by closures as globalisation bites.
“For many of the people here it’s not the first time they’ve been made redundant,” said Wesley Holloway, Amicus union staff rep.
“I’ve moved from plant to plant as they shut them down. Here, I’ve not felt my job is secure for the last five years. And some families have two or more people working here.”
People were particularly angry at the attitude of the plant manager, Geoff Tregonning. “He drove through the picket line, nearly knocking a couple of pickets over,” claimed a striker.
“We informed the police, but nobody’s been round yet.”
This action shows that even big firms can be humbled.
Dura is a giant US-based multinational, which boasts that it is the world’s largest independent designer and manufacturer of driver control systems.
It had global sales of $2.5 billion last year and supplies all the top car firms.
Its main customers are Ford and GM, but also Daimler Chrysler, VW and BMW. It is headed by Lawrence Denton, who is on a basic salary of $800,000 a year.
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