This is the first lockout in the U.K. printing industry since 1958.
Workers had begun a series of short strike actions on Feb. 10 after Mayr-Melnhof, an Austrian-owned company that produces food packaging, announced it was laying off 49 workers.
“We are unhappy with the redundancy payments, which are less than last time, and the selection process,” said Phil Morgan, a Unite official, in a Feb. 29 phone interview from Berlin where he was drumming up support from workers at the company’s factories in Germany and Austria.
“Fourteen of us went down to the other [Mayr-Melnhof] plant in the U.K., at Deeside in Wales,” Dave Povey told the Militant. “We were well received and workers there are now considering to ballot to strike. They fear having similar conditions imposed on them.” The union at the Deeside plant donated £900 (US$1,425) to the locked-out workers.
The workers are especially angry at the attempt by the company to handpick those they want to lay off.
“The company designed a method of selection manipulated to get rid of outspoken people,” said locked-out worker Alan Moss.
“You get points for different things, different skills etc. You get one point for each 10 years you have worked in the plant, but 10 points for being put on the ‘Recommendation board,’ where you are handpicked by managers because you did something ‘special’ for the company,” said John Scully, who has worked in the Liverpool plant for 40 years.
“I have never seen the kind of solidarity among us as I see here today,” said Scully.
Support messages for the locked-out workers can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
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