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Peugeot workers ballot: Strike Action Now!
WORKERS AT Peugeot's Coventry plant have voted for strike action, in reaction to new shift patterns, despite the opposition of the union leaders.
By a Peugeot worker
Car workers here and at Rover, Longbridge and Nissan face the problems of massive overproduction in the car market and the international nature of the major manufacturing groups.
The demand for ever-increasing profit is making this overcapacity unviable. So workers pay the costs. Attacks on working conditions are carried out under the guise of making plants competitive with sister plants in other countries, to compete for new investment and new models.
Workforces comply with every measure asked of them, to secure their plant's future. Then they find that they can't rely on guarantees of future investment. Companies continue to pit workforce against workforce, asking them to carry out an unending list of improvements.
This is starkly shown at Peugeot. The company say that we must have "parity" with hours worked in French plants, but French workers don't work 200 hours a year contractual overtime. Contractual overtime is due to be introduced to French plants, meaning further deterioration in conditions throughout the combine.
Car workers are prepared to fight back as shown by threats of action from Ford and Peugeot. Unfortunately our union leaders are trying to prevent effective industrial action. Our national officials try to diffuse action with false ideas of co-operation and partnership with the employers.
The union leaders should be mounting a campaign of industrial action to remove the anti-union laws which are the biggest barrier to solidarity action including international action which workers need to take.
Workers at Peugeot fear a union sell-out after union officials hailed new company proposals, which offer nothing to meet workers' demands, as significant. The negotiating committee grasped this opportunity to put strike action on hold pending the outcome of a second consensus ballot.
New ballot papers will be issued on 19 July for A and B shifts, and 21 July for C shift. The result will be announced on Wednesday 26 July, the day before the original strike action was due to commence.
This is a blatant attempt to derail this dispute, This recommendation was defied in the first consensus ballot by 86%, as workers forced a ballot for strike action, this time there is no recommendation either way as officials wash their hands of any responsibility.
There were angry scenes at union meetings as workers insisted that there were no significant changes therefore no need for another ballot. At the meeting I attended, workers voiced their determination to press on with strike action.
In the new ballot we must return a strong vote for action and avoid the mistake of four years ago, when we passed up the opportunity to strike against the introduction of contractual overtime. Enough is enough.
In The Socialist 21 July 2000: