Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/606/8657
Metaldyne workers fight bosses' sweeping attacks
Workers at the Metaldyne engine parts manufacturer in Halifax are set for a third day of strike action over the imposition of shift changes and threats of further attacks on terms, conditions, pensions and pay.
Ian Slattery and Alex Whatley
Management have already refused pay rises for two years running, telling workers they are earning 15-20% more than the market rate. In a letter to all staff they warned of the following changes to terms and conditions: an unpaid increase in hours worked from 36 to 40, changes to shift patterns without consultation with workers, cuts in pay for some shifts, suspension of the bonus scheme, attacks on sick pay, the continued closure of the canteen, and the closure of the pension scheme to new employees.
The attempted implementation of these changes was countered by a ballot for strike action. Management withdrew their plans but before long, most of them were back on the table and workers were forced to return to strike action.
One worker told The Socialist that the managing director, Chris Reynier, "needs to realise that you can't impose changes on workers, there must be give and take. We just don't trust him now."
There was some frustration that the strike action has not been more regular - the two previous strike days were a week apart, the second coming on 17 December. There is little doubt that when the management came back with the second round of attacks they anticipated action but calculated that the business could survive as work was always going to lessen in December.
"We're not forceful enough," one striker stated. "I think we should go all out and show our strength. It's too easy to work around single day walkouts."
The next strike day is set for 6 January, although further decisions were due to be made at a mass meeting.
The factory convenor warned: "If our action today doesn't work then we'll have no choice but to escalate."
With skilled manual jobs at a premium and unemployment already at a disgraceful high, the Socialist Party demands that any company threatening cuts should be nationalised and run under the control of workers, with compensation to shareholders given only on the basis of proven need.
In The Socialist 6 January 2010:
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