Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/7210
STOP PRESS: Key union activist sacked
Update 5: 29/4/09: 19:00 Outcome of negotiations.
Wednesday 7pm: We understand that today's negotiations between the union and Linamar management have ended. More negotiations have been scheduled for a week's time (Wednesday 6 May). In the meantime Rob remains in his job and as Convenor of the factory. Determined action has forced Linamar to think again.
Socialist Party member Rob Williams, the Unite convenor of the Linamar car parts factory (formerly Visteon) in Swansea, was called into the directors' office of the plant on Tuesday 28 April and told that he was being sacked for "irretrievable breakdown of trust".
Rob Williams addresses Socialist Party 'Support Visteon Workers' meeting in London, photo by Paul Mattsson
This blatant victimisation of one of the leading left-wing shop steward activists in the car industry was met by an immediate production line walk-off by the day shift. They surrounded Rob's union office after management called in police to forcibly remove Rob from the building.
Following the brilliant action of the day shift yesterday (Tuesday) Linamar management have been forced to the negotiating table.
Rob's sacking has been withdrawn and he remains convenor, but he is still suspended, and negotiations are taking place this morning.
The workers are demanding Rob's complete re-instatement, without conditions, and for no action to be taken against anyone who has supported him.
If this isn't achieved they are threatening to walk out again.
Rob is asking for as many people as possible to be outside the plant at 1 pm Wednesday 29 April when the talks are due to start.
Rob and others will hopefully be speaking at a rally outside the plant at 3.00pm.
Keep sending messages of protest and support, plus messages to Tony Woodley, demand that the union gives its full backing to any action that is needed in support of Rob and, if needed, calls out other car plants across Wales.
Rob Williams said:
"The company called me into the office and the plant manager and the group president gave me a letter just terminating me, without representation, without any disciplinary procedure.
They accepted that I haven't committed any acts of gross misconduct and basically said it's because everything they try and do in the plant the union challenges, so it's blatantly for trade union activities.
It says everything about the law in this country that it contravenes any rule, it would be totally defeated at an employment tribunal, and yet the action the boys took to defend me is illegal.
The workforce response was fantastic. They were a bit nervous, clearly this is a brutal, cynical attempt.
But once the boys knew what was at stake they rallied round. The company wanted me to leave the premises, I refused to.
I then ran through the offices, through the plant into the union office which the company can't open.
There were five policemen brought onto the site to get me out so the boys came round the office, refused to go.
When that happened the police were obviously very wary then and left the site.
Clearly the bosses see the recession as an opportunity to attack the workforce, where those workplaces are where the union is strong they want to attack the union.
We've got a fantastic history in the plant, defending our terms and conditions and contracts and our jobs and they see it is unavoidable that they have to take on the union to get what they want.
Therefore you've got to fight and there's got to be united action, and that's why the Visteon workers should be supported in their action.
Companies have drawn the conclusion that workers shouldn't expect decent jobs, decent terms and conditions and the only way we're going to keep them is if we fight for them."
Rob has been very active in the campaign of the sacked Visteon car parts workers and has recently visited all three of their plants.
His sacking is likely to be linked to his role in this struggle.
The Visteon Unite convenors are demanding that Rob be reinstated and they, alongside many others, are calling on Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley to also back the immediate reinstatement of Rob.
Linamar is feeling the economic pinch and recently announced 140 redundancies.
Phone protests to:
- Head of Swansea Linamar Brian Wade 01792 656339
- Personnel Manager 01792 656 238
Rush email messages to:
Messages of protest to firstname.lastname@example.org
Messages of support to Rob Williams: email@example.com
and Socialist Party Wales: firstname.lastname@example.org
Send messages urging Unite to defend Rob and other lay officials to the Wales secretary of Unite: Andy.Richards@unitetheunion.com
Rob Williams at London Sociailist Party Visteon meeting, photo Paul Mattsson
Support from Staythorpe workers
27 Unite and GMB members at Staythorpe, Newark (most of those present) signed a petition on 29 April entitled "Defend Sacked Unite Convenor", Jon Dale (Socialist Party, Mansfield and North Derbyshire) reported. Twenty papers were sold and £18 raised for the Socialist Party fighting fund.