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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 November 2009

Steelworkers get organised and score a victory over bonus payments

At the end of November Corus steelworkers will harvest the fruits of victory when they receive two bonus payments in one pay packet. This is due to trade union members getting organised and demanding a ballot for industrial action following the October announcement that Corus had reneged for a second time on quarterly bonus payments.

The first occurred in July when Corus announced the suspension of bonus payments until the 2009/10 terms and conditions had been agreed. They then changed their minds, saying that they would continue to pay the bonus but only when they could afford to.

A legal challenge was mounted to bring the company back into line with existing agreements. The company seem intent upon a bonus scheme related to profitability and want to scrap the present scheme which is largely based upon productivity.

As soon as the empty October pay packets arrived, workers at Hartlepool immediately decided to go to ballot and a mass meeting took place at Corby with others planned for Scunthorpe and Teesside.

Faced with the threat of an organised workforce, the company performed a complete about turn and announced that both bonus payments would be included in the November wage sheets. They tried hiding behind "an improvement in trading circumstances" but the real reason for the change of mind is trade union activity amongst the rank and file membership.

However there is one disappointing element to these developments. One union has tried to claim all the credit for the victory when the facts are that all the steel unions, GMB, SIMA, Unite, Community and Ucatt were organising members and preparing to win the ballot. Hopefully this silly pettiness will cease and not affect the fight to retain the pension scheme which is currently threatened by the closure of the scheme to new entrants. Negotiations continue in an attempt to avert another confrontation.

By a steelworker

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