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11 July 2018

Tyneside shopfitting plant lays off 61 workers

Elaine Brunskill, Northern Socialist Party regional secretary

At the start of their day shift at the end of June, management at HMY retail group dropped a bombshell on their workforce when they announced 61 redundancies - all of their production workers.

The company intends to continue trading, but with production from outside Britain.

The company, which manufactures retail furniture, has blamed the redundancies on "difficult market conditions over the last couple of years."

Workers at the plant explained: "Some of the lads have worked here for 30, 40 years." Also, because the factory is located in Burnopfield, Tyneside, which is a semi-rural location, many people from the surrounding area work there.

In some cases two, three or more family members work alongside each other. This is going to have a devastating impact.


For many years workers at the plant have felt that management has made mistakes.

A couple of years ago the workers went on strike (see 'HMY Radford shopfitters strike against penny-pinching company'). It was the first strike action at the factory for 33 years, and was about pay and conditions.

Workers are angry and dismayed at the lack of information coming from the company. There are rumours that production will be closed by the end of August.

There is also anger at the way workers have been treated. In December workers from the plant were laid off. Then when they were reinstated in the new year management had the audacity to ask if they'd had a good Christmas!

Another time the company held a garden party for all the workers. Then immediately afterwards workers were laid off! There was a feeling that the workers who'd been laid off had paid the price for the party.

One of the workers who will be laid off commented: "Currently we all feel that we're waiting in the middle of the road for a bus to come along and hit us."

At this stage the workers feel stunned. Collectively they have given years of service - but for bosses and their rotten capitalist system this counts for nothing.