Monday, February 14, 2011

Twenty Years ago... the NEW WORKER

Thirty nine weeks after being sacked 79 Midlands workers marched triumphantly back into their factory, having won their dispute. The predominantly Asian workforce of Hayes Shellcast at Wye, West Midlands were fired when they refused to sign new contracts and to accept cuts in pay and conditions. Macho management failed. The workers’ stand forced the company into receivership. The Transport and General Workers’ Union has negotiated an agreement with the new Company, which includes trade union recognition, re-employment for the sacked workers and a wage deal. The dispute began last May when Shellcast sacked the entire workforce of 130 after they took strike action to stop a wage cut of up to £130 a week. The management proposed the wage cuts in anticipation of the recession. Previous redundancies and productivity agreements had made the wage cuts even more unacceptable. Hayes Shellcast makes castings for the heavy motor industry and was profitable until it provoked the strike.

The direct hit on a Baghdad air raid shelter last Wednesday killed hundreds of Iraqi civilians thought to be mainly women and children. Eyewitness reports said the bodies recovered had been burned without recognition - the bombs had caused the shelter to burst into flames. According to the American news network (CNN) correspondent Peter Arnett the shelter, built during the Iraq/Iran war, had been used a great deal since the coalition round-the-clock bombing began on January 17. Alan Little, a BBC correspondent reported that the blazing shelter could not be doused as Baghdad now has neither the water or pumping facilities to cope with such a fire. News of the carnage was reported just a day after senior military spokespersons had been at pains to reassure us every possible care is being taken to avoid civilian casualties.