Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/575/7165
Fury at John Lewis' trickery
THE SIXTY workers in Carlisle sacked by textile and dyeing company Stead McAlpin see the similarities of their situation to that of sacked Visteon workers. It's as if employers had a manual advising them to sell parts of the company when recession looms, just to strip workers of their redundancy entitlements.
Stead McAlpin's parent company Apex recently bought the firm from John Lewis Partnership, who had assured workers that all benefits, including enhanced redundancy payments, would be honoured.
I spoke to sacked workers staging a protest vigil at the Carlisle plant. Redundant workers told me how they felt conned by John Lewis. Chris Oats said he felt "anger, bitterness and depression. If we had the proper redundancy that John Lewis promised, we'd have had a bit behind us. I'm even owed wages which I've been told I'll have to apply for."
Chris explained that when the 'partnership' had plans to sell, they called consultation meetings. Chris said: "We were textile workers up against professionals. I asked the personnel head: If we are all co-owners, what part of the business do we own? He replied: Tough decisions have to be made."
Carolyn Benn said she had worked at the factory for 28 years, only to be herded into a room "by folk we'd never seen in our lives and told we were finished".
Workers were split into two groups and told that one group would stay and the remaining sixty be finished. Three workers weren't on either list. "We were taken upstairs to see Pistol Pete [Apex operations manager] to see if we were staying or going - he just waved his hand dismissively and said No, they go." Carolyn also said: "The factory used to be like an extended family - but we didn't even get time to say goodbye."
One rule for them...
Workers who were kept on also feel stunned. On the day of the sackings, one of those kept on told the administrator he would look for a new job. Despite his co-workers being given minutes to get out of the factory, the worker was told he would have to give them six months (contracted) notice!
Those left have since been told they only have the coming month's wage guaranteed.
On Friday 17 April, sacked Stead McAlpin workers will be staging a protest outside John Lewis's flagship shop in Oxford Street followed by the HQ.
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In The Socialist 15 April 2009:
Stop the slaughter of Tamils
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party workplace news
Youth fight for jobs
Marxist analysis: history
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party campaigns
International socialist news and analysis