Angry Shorts' workers reject pay deal
Socialist Voice June 2003, By Peter Hadden.
SHORTS' WORKERS have thrown out a rotten four year pay deal, ignoring a recommendation from senior shop stewards in what is known as the "corporate committee" that they accept it.
To the surprise both of management and senior union officials, 60% of the workforce voted to reject it following a series of very angry consultation meetings.
The deal offers a pay freeze in the first year to be followed by rises of no more than 2% over the next three years. Strings, which are no more than cost cutting measures, include a cut in holiday entitlement and shift changes which would leave many workers financially much worse off.
New entrants are to be brought in on lesser conditions - under this deal they would have to work for ten years before getting their full holiday entitlement.
The background to this deal is the witchhunts that have been conducted against union activists in the company over the past three or four years. The right wing leadership of MSF (now part of Amicus) derecognised the most militant shop stewards who were then made redundant.
These measure have left a compliant trade union leadership in the factory. Corporate Committee members seem to have spent more time in recent years touring round airshows along with management jointly promoting Shorts' products than they have defending the conditions of the workforce.
They were taken to the Belfast Hilton Hotel for the days of negotiations that led to this deal. Senior Bombardier Executives were brought in from Canada with threats of more cuts, even closure, if cost cutting measures were not accepted.
Shorts has already suffered a 49% cut in its workforce and the last round of redundancies are still being carried through. Similar cuts have taken place in Toronto and Wichita where the threat of closure has also been used to cut back on conditions.
Meanwhile the Montreal plant has doubled its workforce Bombardier, appears determined to concentrate production there.
The right wing corporate committee was unable or unwilling to withstand the threats of the company. But they could not sell this deal to an outraged workforce. Such was the anger that security guards had to be called to escort them from some of the consultation meetings.
Shorts workers can have no confidence in the current union leadership in the factory. A vote of no confidence in the corporate committee should be followed by the election of people who are prepared to stand up to the company.
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