Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/577/7222
Sacked workers protest in Newcastle
Sacked Stead McAlpin workers protest in Newcastle, photo B Harkness
WORKERS AT Stead McAlpin, who were sacked and given just 15 minutes to leave the factory, brought their protest to Newcastle where they picketed John Lewis at its shop inside Eldon Square shopping centre.
Stead McAlpin had been owned by the John Lewis Partnership, who sold it on to Apex. John Lewis had promised the textile workers that all their benefits, including enhanced redundancy payments, would be honoured. This promise was like a pie crust - easily broken!
On 25 April, the sacked workers held their banners and handed out leaflets explaining their situation. After a few minutes in Eldon Square, security was sent to move the protesters on. Alan McDermott, one of the sacked workers, explained how they were "playing cat and mouse [with security]. It was fun - they definitely didn't want us there."
John Lewis and Eldon Square security were not happy about the protest, but shoppers were intrigued to find out what was going on. Alan told us that: "One older woman said she felt awful as she had just bought something from John Lewis. She added: 'but look what they've done to you.'"
The sacked workers said John Lewis always referred to the partnership as a democracy, "but it was only a democracy until their profits were threatened - then there was an inner steel ring to defend: big pensions; big salaries and big pay-offs for the bosses."
Alan explained that unlike the sacked workers, who were given none of the enhanced redundancy payments promised by John Lewis, former managing director, Luke Mayhew, had received a £1 million pay-off when he resigned.
At the time, workers were told it was normal practice for someone in his position to get a pay-off of this degree. Once again bosses are caught with their noses in the trough - while ordinary workers are offered nothing.
In The Socialist 29 April 2009:
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis