Seize chance to save Dagenham
THE ENTIRE workforce of 6,500 at Ford Dagenham is to ballot for strike action to save the plant. A mass meeting of all 6,500 workers to discuss the ballot is to take place soon.
That was the welcome conclusion of a meeting of all shop stewards and union reps-both blue collar and white collar-at the giant car plant on Monday of this week.
Around 1,000 workers in the Paint, Trim and Assembly plant (PTA) stopped work for two hours on Monday before the meeting took place. The ballot decision is a big step forward.
Until this week the unions were discussing balloting only the PTA and the Body Plant at Dagenham-the two areas threatened with complete closure by Ford’s decision to end car production at the site.
That would leave out Dagenham’s Engine Plant, whose workers have the power to bring all of Ford Europe grinding to a halt in hours. Ford bosses are trying to divide and rule the workforce by claiming the future of the Engine Plant is rosy. But if the rest of Dagenham closes, the Engine Plant won’t be far behind.
TGWU official Tony Woodley addressed Monday’s meeting. “We can close Ford Europe,” he told the assembled union reps. “Now is the time to do it, and to say to Ford, ‘We’ll say when you can open up again’.” He also rejected the idea of a consultative ballot and said now is the time to “put up or shut up”.
Reps from each different area of the plant then met separately. The stewards from both the PTA and the Body Plant were already committed to the ballot.
The crucial question was what the Engine Plant reps would decide. An argument followed. In the end the Engine Plant reps decided unanimously to back both the ballot and the mass meeting.
Now the unions at the plant must campaign like hell to win the biggest possible yes vote in the ballot-and to hit Ford hard.
Lifted by the action
NEARLY 300 childcare workers in Plymouth social services held a one-day strike last Monday against closures and job cuts. Angry workers held a lively demonstration through the city centre.
Elderly residents in homes threatened with closure attended the demonstration. Strikers then held up the council meeting. The newly elected Tory council plans cuts of 933,000.
Strikers are buoyant. UNISON and the GMB union are to ballot to escalate the action. Workers are due to strike again on 19 and 20 September, increasing to three days the next week and five days at the beginning of October.
OVER 200 council workers and members of Ealing UNISON union struck on Friday of last week and Monday of this week against changes to their contracts. This was part of a rolling programme of action against the west London council. The council’s attacks are on occupational therapy, technical and social services staff.
Striking with determination
WORKERS AT British Aerospace in Woodford, Greater Manchester, are set to continue their strike action over pay. The 640 workers were set to strike this Thursday, followed by one-day strikes on Tuesday and Thursday of next week.
The workers are also picketing at weekends against management bringing in subcontractors in an attempt to breach the workers’ overtime ban. The action comes on the back of a 94 percent vote for industrial action against BAE’s attempts to lock the workers into a multi-year pay deal.
On Tuesday of last week the trade unions involved, headed by the engineers’ AEEU, decided to call off the all-out strike set for the next day. Management then withdrew the offer on the table, saying they couldn’t afford to meet it.
As union convenor Graham Cain told Socialist Worker, “The one word that sums up my members is ‘determined’.”
OVER 60 people from Coats Viyella in Mansfield, and Biwater in Clay Cross, Derbyshire, lobbied local Labour MP and minister Geoff Hoon last Saturday. Thousands of jobs are to be lost at the Coats Viyella textile firm.
Pipe-making company Biwater is to be closed down by its owner, the French multinational Saint-Gobain, despite it having a 10 million order for pipes. “Saint-Gobain bought us to close us down, to get rid of competition,” said Peter, a worker at the Biwater plant.
Both of the areas will be devastated if these job cuts go through. “If Biwater goes the town will go,” said John Nuttall, from Clay Cross. Hoon refused to meet with people who weren’t his constituents.
The Biwater workers have launched a fightback campaign.
Keep it public
SAVE OUR Baths campaigners leafleted users of the new Aquatic Centre in Manchester in the continuing campaign to demand local pools are kept open and under public control.
The new Aquatic Centre cost 32 million. The council and three universities jointly own the centre, run by Serco Limited.
A SOCIALIST candidate is to run in the forthcoming elections for general secretary of the civil servants’ PCS union.
South Yorkshire activist Mark Serwotka has decided to run against the two right wing candidates, Barry Reamsbottom and Hugh Lanning.
Serwotka’s decision comes after the broad left grouping in the PCS, Left Unity, unfortunately decided not to give “conditional support” to Lanning.
Serwotka has to gain the backing of 50 PCS branches by 20 October. A campaign under the banner “PCS must fight back” has already been launched.
OVER 100 striking bus workers shook their managers when they turned out to picket on their first 24-hour strike over pay and conditions last week. First Bradford drivers are to be balloted on a management offer, but this is expected to be rejected, and four more one-day actions are planned.
Pay is at the forefront of the strike, but there are many other grievances. “It’s also about management style,” one driver said. “Since it was privatised it’s all about profit, profit, profit.”
They were protesting against the sacking of six workers who refused to sign a new contract.
Five hundred turned out last Monday to hear council officers try to justify the destruction of their community.
It was decided to picket the Labour-led council in protest at the treatment of refugees this Thursday, 21 September, at 4pm at the town’s International Hotel. Some of the dates for the Civil Rights Caravan have been altered due to the fuel crisis. For the latest details phone 020 7837 1450.
They held placards saying “Asylum seekers are welcome here”.
Rene is a member of the main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front (SDF), in Cameroon. He will be in severe danger if he is forced to return to Cameroon. Please fax the Home Office on 020 7273 2043 demanding Rene is granted asylum. Quote ref K510442.
Private Finance Initiative Conference
What it is and how to fight it
Saturday 30 September, 11am-4pm Castle Hotel, Merthyr, South Wales Organised by the Welsh Socialist Alliance For details phone 01792 425 231
SOCIALIST ALLIANCE candidates are standing in a number of areas round Britain.
The candidate, who got strong support from the local Socialist Alliance, got 334 votes (around 30 percent). Labour won with 495 votes, 100 down from its previous vote.
To join the National Network of Socialist Alliances send 6 to Pete McLaren, 32 The Green, Long Lawford, Rugby CV23 9BL.
A lesson in solidarity
TEACHERS AT Kingsland School in Hackney, east London, have won an important victory for solidarity and trade union principles.
The leaders of the teachers’ NUT union were forced last week to drop the outrageous suspension of two dozen Kingsland teachers from union membership and readmit them to the NUT.
The suspensions came at the end of last term in response to a solid unofficial strike by NUT members at Kingsland.
They struck to defend a colleague and joint NUT rep, Indro Sen, from disciplinary procedures which they saw as a clear case of victimisation. Even the school governors felt the teachers “genuinely believed” Indro Sen was a victim of institutionalised racism, and handed out only a low level warning to those who struck.
But NUT leaders suspended them from the union just two days before their disciplinary hearings. Teachers and school students demonstrated outside the disciplinary hearings. Petitions condemning the disciplinaries and the suspensions from the union flooded in from schools.
That pressure forced the union’s leaders to back off. It was unclear as Socialist Worker went to press whether management’s charges against Indro Sen were continuing.
Teachers have now decided to turn a public meeting next week into a rally building on the success against the NUT leaders. It will focus on fighting the privatisation of education and any attack on Sen.
Socialist Worker Student Society Conference
27-29 OCTOBER SALFORD UNIVERSITY 15 For more details phone SWSS 020 7515 2646, PO Box 82, London E3 3LH e-mail [email protected]
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