Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/166/7868
Ryton Car workers set to strike
WORKERS AT Peugeot, Coventry have voted overwhelmingly for strike action after the company imposed new working conditions.
A Ryton worker
Ryton workers previously rejected the deal by 86%. Now we've voted 58.4% to 41.6% for strike action, going against company threats and official union support for the deal.
In my 12 years at Ryton, the workforce have endured six different shift patterns. The latest proposals are supposed to reduce working hours from 39 to 36.75, but workers will be forced to work up to 46 hours a week when management demands it.
Breaks and lunchtimes are being cut and overtime earnings will be sharply reduced as hours currently covered by overtime rates are absorbed into the new shift pattern. For years the workforce accepted, sometimes very angrily, every efficiency measure and change in working practices that the company threw at us.
But now the company are taking us for fools. We're sick of family and social lives being messed about to suit this company's greed.
At union gang meetings the mood was determined. We have no official overtime ban, but most areas are operating a voluntary boycott of overtime. This is important in the run-up to a strike. It shows the company that we're united and prepared to fight.
As one operator pointed out: "It's important that we all pull together as a body. When you go to fight an army you need an army." All shifts are staging a one-day strike on 27 July - their last shift before the summer shutdown.
The company intend to impose the new arrangement when we return from holidays. If there's no significant improvement when we return we'll be on all-out strike after mid-August.
Union officials got egg on their face recommending a deal rejected by 86% of us. This hardly encouraged management to make concessions. But following this ballot result, the unions have been forced to back the workforce. We'll need that if we're to gain back any control of our lives from this company.
COVENTRY SOCIALIST councillor Dave Nellist attacked Peugeot management on local radio. Management said that the 77% turnout wasn't enough for them to take workers' claims seriously. Dave said that the bosses were always for democracy until it didn't give them the result they want!
In The Socialist 14 July 2000: