WORKERS AT insurer Direct Line are on the verge of striking just weeks after many of them joined the union for the first time. If they go ahead this will be the first strike in the history of Direct Line, which is owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Workers voted 96.4 percent in favour of strike action and 98.6 percent voted against accepting the redundancy package offered by bosses. The ballot had an 85.5 percent turnout.
Management threatened mass redundancies in the IT services section several months ago after refusing to recognise the workers’ Unifi union. But they were forced to back down after over 90 percent of the workers affected joined the union at a packed and angry mass meeting.
Management now plan to make almost the entire section of 170 workers redundant. The redundancy offer of two weeks pay per year of service is only a small fraction of the norm in the Royal Bank of Scotland. Direct Line made £34,000 profit for every one of its workers last year and yet management are trying to palm people off with this insulting offer.
Phil Senior, a Croydon-based systems programmer who has been at Direct Line for four years, said he would receive two thirds less redundancy pay than a similar Royal Bank of Scotland employee.
Recently married with a five-month baby daughter, Phil said, ‘I do the same job as people in Royal Bank of Scotland-why should I not receive the same terms? ‘The whole thing is putting a real strain on my family. When I joined up with Direct Line I thought I was developing my career. Now I want to buy a house and get on with married life but we’ve had to put our whole life on hold.’
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Reballots have opened the way to bigger struggle