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Year 2001 Number 17, January 30, 2001 Archive Search Home Page

On the Chubb Workers Rally

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

On the Chubb Workers Rally

Lightning Action by Chubb Workers

Iraq Exhibition Launched

For Your Information:
Tony Blair’s International Engagements

Anti-NATO Demonstration in Greece

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On the Chubb Workers Rally

On Tuesday, January 23, 200 people had attended a rally at Heath Town Working Men's Club in Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, in the famous Lockmakers Quarter, to gain support for the Chubb Safe Workers. Chubb Safes have been told by their new Swedish owners, Gunnebo, that they are going to close the historic factory site only four months after they had purchased the company.

During the Rally, Muff Serani, Regional Officer for MSF, told the audience of mainly Chubb workers, that on August 10, 2000, Gunnebo bought Chubb and Sons and said in a statement that there was to be a positive future for the business and its employees. Three months have passed on and on December 13 the result is, "The Order of the Boot".

"This is at a company," Muff said, "which is profitable and makes a product, which is second to none. Gunnebo accounts for 35 to 40 percent of the UK market for locks and safes. This has been achieved off the backs of the Chubb workers. They are going to end trading with the loss of 170 jobs for no economic reason. The workers in Britain receive 2 euros per hour less than the Dutch and French workers and here they work 2½ hours a week more."

Muff Serani continued to explain the significance of EU law on the disputed closure:

"The company (this kind of undermines the argument about relying on employment law from the EU – you have to give certain notice before redundancies) they did not give the real reason to the department of employment for closures. Gunnebo said that it was a ‘mistake’ and we have to say that this is a mistake, which will cause people to lose their livelihoods. Should they not then re-issue the HRI, put a freeze on job losses and re-negotiate with the unions who would be better informed?"

The militant sentiment expressed at the meeting showed that the people of Wolverhampton and the West Midlands were no longer going to lie down and accept the destruction of industry in the area. Jobs in the area should not just be low paid service industry jobs.

Muff went on to say, "The watchwords should be ‘Enough is Enough – our jobs are not for sale!’ In this region resistance is building up. We are left with no option but to resist closure of Chubb and you have got to make Gunnebo aware that we won't lie down!"

In the rally suggestions were made that a delegation from Chubbs should go to Sweden and lobby the company and the Swedish trade unions as had been done with BMW over Rover.

A delegation of Longbridge workers and shop stewards relayed their experience to the rally.

"The fundamental issue," one steward said, "is that the Chubb workers should rely on themselves." The steward was pointing to how union leaders and New Labour politicians had tried to be a block on the progress of the Rover workers' cause, and continued, "The working class has never been given a free lunch and they have struggled throughout history for their rights."

One Rover steward spoke of workers at Clay Cross where a French company sacked 700 people and to add insult to injury gave them all a £20 Tesco voucher for Christmas. He went on to say that the local Labour MP ended up looking foolish, having said that the New Labour government was going to help them. He gave a short account about their experience at Longbridge during the crisis when a senior Labour member had said that the situation was that everything was a "done deal" (i.e. the workers had no say). "Tony Blair had rolled over, he also said that Byers won't back you." He advised the Chubb workers, " They want the company dead, it will be so but not if you fight!"

One Chubb worker got up and spoke. He said: "The Labour Party has betrayed the working man, they have allowed the company to come in, get profits and then leave, partly because in Britain employers do not have to give notice to the workforce like other parts of Europe. It is cheaper to sack workers in Wednesfield because their pay is lower and redundancy pay will be low as well."

Chubb shop steward Don Sambrook said: "Workers at Chubb have got to start taking the fight forward. With help from other people we can get somewhere and do something about it. If I lose my job it won't be for lying down and playing dead and the rest of you should be thinking the same."

General Secretary of the National Union of Lock and Metal Workers, Ray Ward, told the rally that there was no economic reason for production to be moved away from the Wednesfield Road site. He said: "I have no faith in Tony Blair to take such steps to protect the country's manufacturing industries."

Wolverhampton North East MP, Ken Purchase, told workers that the government would help them put together proposals in a bid to persuade Gunnebo to reverse its decision.

Another contribution said that the EU allowed capital to flow freely and this was supported by New Labour.

After the rally workers discussed with distributors and journalists from Workers’ Weekly saying that their contribution to the rally was very good. They said that they wished to get involved in the growing movement in the West Midlands and would like to participate in the Dudley Hospital Workers' demonstration the following Saturday.

Report from the West Midlands Regional Forum on the Mass Party Press

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Lightning Action by Chubb Workers

Following their rally at Heath Town Working Men's Club in Wednesfield, workers staged a lightning walkout in the week. Their protest is about the closure of the Chubb Safes factory by Swedish firm Gunnebo. They aim to force the firm to re-think its plans for redundancies.

Two hundred banner-waving protesters marched from the main site in Wednesfield Road to Woden Road, Wednesfield, where they demonstrated to their bosses as they arrived for work.

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Iraq Exhibition Launched

Among the events around the country commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day was the launch in Milton Keynes of the exhibition "Stop the Genocide against Iraq: Ten Years of Sanctions and Bombing".

The exhibition features the work of artist Emily Johns who is well known for her contribution to the anti-war and anti-sanctions movement. It is organised by Milton Keynes Gulf Crisis Group and runs until Saturday, February 10, at Church of Christ the Cornerstone, Central Milton Keynes.

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For Your Information:

Tony Blair’s International Engagements

Tony Blair has paid a flying visit to Berlin on Monday afternoon, January 29, for talks with Germany’s Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. The two leaders spent two and a half hours together at a working dinner in the Chancellor’s residence in Dahlem.

A Downing Street spokesperson said that that their discussions, for which there had been no set agenda, had ranged across a broad spectrum of European issues.

Tony Blair and Gerhard Schroeder also discussed EU-US relations, focusing on the question of the European defence identity and on the plans of the US for the "Son of Star Wars" National Missile Defence, which has aroused so much opposition. Russia was also on the agenda, following Chancellor Schroeder’s recent visit there.

The informal talks were said to be part of a regular series of meetings between EU leaders designed to help them keep in touch with one another’s thinking. Tony Blair and Gerhard Schroeder held their last bilateral meeting in London last November, the Prime Minister having visited Berlin previously in June 2000.

Tony Blair is also to visit Washington to meet new US President George W Bush.

A Downing Street spokesperson said that he will be travelling to the US for talks with President Bush on February 23 at the President’s invitation. They will spend time at the Camp David retreat. The visit is scheduled to last two days.

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Anti-NATO Demonstration in Greece

Thousands of people of all ages gathered in the centre of Athens on January 25 to demonstrate for the dissolution of NATO.

Workers, youth, the elderly, mothers, communists and people with other ideologies together marched past the Greek parliament to the offices of the European Union, ending the demonstration in front of the US Embassy. The demonstrators raised the slogan: "Now, the anti-imperialist struggle is a struggle for life".

When they reached the American Embassy, everyone shouted "murderers, murderers". A missile made of paper was draped with the flag of the US imperialists, and the demonstrators set it alight. The same thing happened earlier when the demonstrators marched past the offices of the European Union, where they burnt the EU flag.

The main speech was made by Dimitris Gondikas, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Greece. Kostas Kazakos, a famous actor, also delivered a speech, and a message of greetings was read from Themistoklis Xanthopoulos, rector of the National Polytechnic University.

On the main platform were the banners: "NATO and Americans, Out! The only superpower is the people!"

Among other slogans shouted by the protesters were: "Americans, murderers of the people!", "With uranium bombs you kill the people, we answer with massive struggle!", "NATO, out of the Balkans!", "Imperialism is the enemy!", and "Kick out the murderers of Brussels, down with the new order of the imperialists!".

A further demonstration will take place on February 8, organised by the Labour Centre of Athens, which unites all trade unions in the Athens area. The demonstration is also being supported by a number of other popular organisations.

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