Leading Trade Union Fighter Victimised - Support Rob Williams!
29th April 2009Socialist Party member Rob Williams, Unite convenor of the Linamar car parts factory 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".
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.
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. In those workplaces 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.
Update 29th April: Following the brilliant action of the day shift yesterday, 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, when the talks are due to finish.- keep the pressure up!
Protest 1/00pm outside Linamar gates today and rally with Rob & other supporters speaking at 3/00pm outside gate.
Phone protests to:
Head of Swansea Linamar Brian Wade 01792 656339
Personnel Manager 01792 656 238
Rush email messages of support to:
Rob Williams (robbo [AT] redwills.freeserve.co.uk)
Socialist Party Wales (socialistpartywales [AT] btinternet.com)
Protest Messages to Linmar (linda.hasenfratz [AT] linmar.com)
Messages urging Unite to defend Rob and other lay officials to the Wales secretary of Unite Andy Richards (Andy.Richards [AT] unitetheunion.com)