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Strike victory increases pay-offs
STRIKING WORKERS in the Dura car parts factory in Llanelli have won a significant victory in a dispute over redundancy payments. The plant closes later this year with the work being transferred to the Czech Republic.
Rob Williams, convenor, Visteon Swansea plant, personal capacity
The 270 workers faced being laid off on statutory terms, £290 per year's service, up to a maximum of 20 years. This would have meant workers with over 30 years service receiving around £9,000! The strike began on 24 August after management refused to budge. The majority of the plant's workers joined the angry picket line.
Initially, agency workers still worked but these were withdrawn after the second day. Management were clearly up against their customers at this stage and desperately tried to break the strike. On Friday, management started talks with the union about increasing lay-off terms.
The talks were supposed to continue at 9am on the Saturday morning but they called them off when pickets stopped them bussing a mini-bus of Czech, American and German workers through the picket line.
However, they were forced to the table at 11am for talks which eventually saw the redundancy payments raised to £1,500 per year's service worked. This could mean workers with 30 years' service now receiving up to £45,000.
Car workers in the area such as those from Krupps Camford Pressings in Llanelli and Visteon in Swansea gave support to the strikers. There are still thousands of car workers in Wales who understood the importance of the dispute. Wages, pensions and terms and conditions are being threatened by ruthless companies in the car component industry as well as the rest of manufacturing.
The Dura dispute shows that the bosses want to turn the clock back so that not only are workers sacked but on the cheap.
However, the determined stand of the Dura workers show that the bosses aren't invincible.
The plant couldn't be saved at this time but without a determined fight which involved the overwhelming majority of the plant's workers, they would have been sacked on a pittance!
Hopefully, the success of the dispute will lift the confidence of car workers to oppose the bosses' plans to drive down conditions and close plants. The car bosses have declared war on car workers over the last decade in particular, in a desperate attempt to shore up profits in a car market with over-capacity.
Work has been outsourced to low-wage economies such as Eastern Europe and China or the threat of it has been used to wring concessions from the work force.
However, the closures at Longbridge, Jaguar's Bown's Lane, Peugeot's Ryton and countless component factories have destroyed the myth that 'concession bargaining' works. In reality, it merely makes factories cheaper to close.
The strike at Dura should signal a new strategy of militant action with solidarity and support from other workers and the local community.
That is the real way of defending jobs and terms and conditions.
In The Socialist 7 September 2006:
Socialist Party campaigns
War and terrorism
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news