Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/579/7266
Linamar sack Swansea trade union leader
Rob Williams addresses a lobby of Unite London headquarters over his sacking as Linamar convenor. Photo Alison Hill
Socialist Party member Rob Williams, trade union (Unite) convenor of the Linamar car parts plant in Swansea, was sacked on 6 May. This was in spite of a walkout by his fellow workers when he was first told he was being sacked, and the intervention of Unite leader Tony Woodley. The campaign for Rob's reinstatement is continuing, with the union balloting for strike action.
Rob spoke to The Socialist:
"What's clear now is that my sacking is part of the company's strategy to attack the terms and conditions of our members in the plant. Clearly the company see my sacking as one part of a process.
The company want to renege on the agreements they made on pensions last summer. They want to 'buy down' terms and conditions, in other words give a one-off payment to worsen conditions. How voluntary that will be I don't know.
The members are now voting on strike action. But it is not just about me being sacked. It's not just about defending the union within the plant it is also now about defending their own contracts.
The talk around the plant is that I was offered a deal in the meeting. I didn't receive any formal deal off the company but there were certainly hints that I could have had my job back if I was prepared to recommend these attacks on terms and conditions. There was talk about a pay-out and there was talk about a job with the union, although I got nothing formal off the company or the union.
But with the company threatening our members' terms and conditions there was no way on earth that I was going to sign up to a sweetheart deal. The point is it's not about Rob Williams. This is an attack on the union. And the only people who should decide who is convenor are the members in the plant.
On 6 March Tony Woodley met Brian Wade, the Canadian Linamar manager. All day Wade made it perfectly clear that his agenda was to reduce costs within the company. That means attacking our members' terms and conditions. Then about 4.30pm they said I was sacked.
I want to pay tribute to the workers at the plant because if they hadn't been prepared to stop work the previous week I'd have been sacked then.
There's a strike ballot now and the union are actively encouraging everyone to vote for the strike. We want to send a clear and loud message to the company that we're not prepared to accept the sacking and we're not prepared to accept the attacks on terms and conditions.
This is a matter for the whole union. Far bigger companies than Linamar in Swansea will be looking at this case to see if Linamar get away with it so they can do the same. An attack on the union should be defended by the whole union. And the union should rule nothing in and nothing out."
What you can do
Phone protests to: Head of Swansea Linamar Brian Wade 01792 656339, personnel manager 01792 656238. Messages of protest to firstname.lastname@example.org
Messages of support to Rob Williams: email@example.com
Donations to the campaign: Linamar workers' hardship fund, 31 Waun Wen Terrace, Swansea SA1 1DX. Make cheques out to TGWU 4/1 branch. Or make donations direct through your own bank to: T&G 4/1 branch, sort code 08 60 01, account number 20055051.
In The Socialist 13 May 2009:
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party news and analysis
Linamar and Visteon
Socialist Party election campaign
Youth fight for jobs
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Marxist analysis: history