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Year 2001 Number 7, January 16, Archive Search Home Page

Further Actions against the Effects of the Anti-Social Offensive on Workers and Other Sections

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Further Actions against the Effects of the Anti-Social Offensive on Workers and Other Sections

Goodyear Workers’ Redundancy Notices

Teachers' Strike Ballot Looms

Rolls Royce Workers Demonstrate in Coventry

Vauxhall and BMW Face Workers’ Strikes

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Further Actions against the Effects of the Anti-Social Offensive on Workers and Other Sections

In this WDIE, we are carrying a number of short articles on the actions workers and teachers are taking.

At the same time as Tony Blair is trying to convince the electorate that the tough choices the government has been making have been good for the country, the workers and other sections are finding that they are having to step up their actions. These actions are against the oppressive effects of the anti-social offensive, the offensive against society as a whole and against the whole conception of society itself. They are also against the increased exploitation and the job cuts which is bound up with the anti-social offensive at home and the drive to make companies competitive in the global marketplace.

These actions of the workers and other sections of the people are both just and necessary. The working class and people cannot let the government off the hook. At the same time, all these struggles raise the question of who must decide which direction society is going in. It will not do to suggest, as the government is doing, that the answer is for communities to enter into partnership with government, while at the same time the fabric of society and the national economy are coming under such pressure from the retrogressive direction of the anti-social offensive and globalisation.

The working class and people must be at the centre of decision-making for the whole society. Keeping this firmly in mind, the struggles which are intensifying show the necessity for the workers and people in struggle to keep the initiative in their own hands, fight in defence of their rights and interests, and discuss how to further their own organisation and what should be done to open the door to a new society.

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Goodyear Workers’ Redundancy Notices

Around 260 workers at Goodyear's tyre plant in Wolverhampton began to receive their redundancy notices yesterday, although it was reported that executives at the plant have put a further 285 or so job losses on hold, at least for the next few days.

The move follows a decision last week by workers at the Stafford Road plant to reject a plan to save 260 of their jobs. The workers voted by nearly four to one to reject the deal, which would have had their working week cut from 47 to 37 hours a week, with a consequent drop in wages. The 2,300-strong workforce say that their pay would have been cut by far more than the 11% publicised if they agreed and that this would be "intolerable". The deal would have involved improved productivity and changes to working practices and shift patterns – that is, stepped up exploitation in the interests of making the company successful in the conditions of cut-throat competition.

Peter Booth, Transport and General Workers Union national officer, said: "We respect their decision and will now seek talks with Goodyear to ensure that those losing their jobs get their full redundancy entitlements. We are also seeking commitments from Goodyear regarding the long-term future of what is the biggest employer in Wolverhampton."

Talks have been held over the past few months after the company issued 90-day redundancy notices last year. Goodyear blamed overcapacity and poor market conditions for its difficulty in being able to compete in the global tyre markets.

Union leaders and management are still in talks around the loss of jobs but Goodyear warns that it will be "extremely difficult to build a future for the plant". Workers are refusing to accept what the company is saying and Roger Shutt, the T&G regional official, was adamant that workers had clearly understood the issues. He said that the company should go back to the drawing board and come up with new options.

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Teachers' Strike Ballot Looms

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers has authorised ballots on industrial action where there are staff shortages. The action would involve teachers refusing to cover vacant posts for more than three days.

National officers of the NASUWT, at their regular monthly meeting in Rednal, near Birmingham, considered a report from the general secretary, Nigel de Gruchy, with details from union branches on the situation in their areas.

Afterwards, a spokesperson said they had given authority for ballots to be held where "significant teacher shortages" were reported – either in individual schools or in whole areas of England.

The NASUWT is to meet the biggest teaching union, the NUT, to co-ordinate their approach "on furthering action on this issue".

Brian Garvey, the NASUWT official for West and North Yorkshire, said this was the first year he could recall having shortages on his patch. He had someone phone him for the first time last term, saying she was quitting teaching after only a couple of months in the job. "She was disillusioned," he said. "It wasn't what she thought it was going to be."

Although official figures show the vacancy rate for teachers in England and Wales is less than 1%, that does not take into account those on a short-term contract. Nor does it reflect the concern of teachers that many schools are relying on stopgap measures such as having to cover for unfilled posts or sick leave.

In these circumstances, teachers are working under intolerable pressure. Teachers are having to be recruited from abroad to try and fill the vacancies, and are being pitched in at the deep end. The pupils themselves also have to cope with part-time and supply teachers.

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Rolls Royce Workers Demonstrate in Coventry

A demonstration of Rolls Royce workers took place in Coventry City Centre yesterday. Workers and their unions are also collecting signatures on a petition against the company's plans to cut jobs at the Ansty plant. More than 5,000 people have already signed the petition.

The company plans to move part of its operation to Canada, Bristol and Derby, which would mean 600 jobs would go.

Rolls Royce workers are also being balloted over strike action.

Text of the Petition

"We the undersigned call upon the Government, Local Government and Rolls- Royce Directors to intervene and reconsider the future of Rolls Royce Operations at Ansty. If the Company proposals are implemented we believe there will be irreparable damage to the UK skills and Technology base with the associated consequences for regional and national economy and for Rolls-Royce Business."

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Vauxhall and BMW Face Workers’ Strikes


Vauxhall workers are to be balloted on strike action over the plan to end car production at Luton with the loss of 2,000 jobs. The decision was made by leaders of three unions following a meeting at the General Motors European headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

Workers at Luton and at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, are being balloted.

Union leaders are also to seek a meeting in Detroit with the chief executive of General Motors world-wide Rick Wagoner.


Workers at the BMW plant in Cowley rejected the company’s latest pay and productivity deal by 51% in a vote last week.

Union officials were meeting the management yesterday in an effort to avert industrial action. The German company said it hoped to resolve the dispute at the plant, which will build the new Mini, after details of the offer were explained fully.

Under the deal, workers would have to agree to more flexibility on working schedules, including the prospect of Saturday production when necessary. An element of performance-related pay would also be introduced.

The deal has the aim of boosting productivity up to the level of BMW plants in Germany. In return, pay rises of at least 10% over two years is being offered, and possibly extra shift allowances.

BMW said reports that it was threatening to close the factory because of the dispute were "absolutely untrue".

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