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Strike forces concessions
Tyneside Safety Glass (TSG) workers have suspended a further two weeks of strike action as factory bosses have made concessions.
Initially the company had seemed intransigent, saying the strike would cost workers their jobs. But two weeks of strike action has forced TSG to backtrack and negotiate with the union.
The company clearly thought the first week of strike action would be a flash in the pan, and the second week would see a stream of workers crossing the picket lines. However, both of the week-long strikes were solid and the threat of a two-week strike forced the bosses into talks with the union.
One of the shop stewards, Neil Davison, described how: "During the strikes we became a lot stronger. Every day has had a good turnout on the picket line." He also told us that strikers were prepared for more strikes if TSG bosses hadn't been prepared to "sit down and thrash it out with us."
TSG workers understand this is a partial victory, but also an important step forward. The strike was for a pay rise and the restoration of sick pay. The new agreement is for a 2.5% increase in April, but no immediate rise. Productivity bonuses will be introduced in April, and the sickness scheme, which had been cut to 25%, will go back to 50%.
Shop steward Mark Robertson said: "The union is united again and we are growing... This strike has shown that militant action pays and if you adopt the correct strategies and tactics you can win victories."
Many of the workers described the intimidation from the bosses on the factory floor, and the appalling working conditions, including health and safety issues, which need sorting out. The strengthened union within the factory must ensure these issues are tackled.
The workforce must be on alert as the factory bosses may attempt to renege on their promise of an increase in April. Also, any attempt to single out leaders of the strike should be met with an immediate walkout.
In The Socialist 20 October 2010:
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