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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 May 2017

Window workers walk out after seeing through contract changes

Picket line photo Sean Brogan

Picket line photo Sean Brogan   (Click to enlarge)

Sean Brogan and Alex Moore

Unite members in Paignton, South Devon, are on a rolling series of two-day strikes. They work for Sierra Windows (part of the Epwin Group which has window fabricating factories in Telford, Tamworth, Cardiff and Newton Abbot).

Bosses are trying to impose a four-day, 12-hour shift, which will mean loss of overtime and disruption to their lives. One picket reckons it will mean 1,000 a year less in wages. And this is a workforce who haven't received a pay increase since 2008.

Epwin Group sees itself as 'progressive' and 'forward looking' but the workers see it differently. One picket described the offer as "gross exploitation, more hours for less money" - indeed, it takes working people back to the battle for the eight-hour day.

There is a suspicion that management has picked on this factory as it is unionised. Strikers are being financially supported by Unite. A private transport company is being used to supply agency drivers - regular drivers are being sent away as far as Scotland so as to not appear at the picket line during strike days.

A turning point may be when DG Glass of Newton Abbot ballot in the coming days. The Epwin Group uses different names for its operations.

Trade unionists and Socialist Party members were welcomed on the picket line and banners in support came from Exeter TUC and Torbay and District TUC.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

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