This article is from the July 2004 edition of Socialist Voice
Support Dessian Strikers
WORKERS AT the Dessian Products factory in Apollo Road have been on strike since 19 May. The strike began over the sacking of Paddy McCloskey, one of the two T&GWU shop stewards in the plant, Peter Hadden reports.
Paddy was sacked for "refusing to carry out duties". In fact he was doing three jobs at the time! The real reason was to deal a blow at the union by victimising a shop steward. It is no coincidence that the sacking took place just as pay negotiations were opening.
Dessian are a low wage company and the management want to keep it that way. The starting rate is the minimum wage. This can rise over five years to a miserly £6.50 per hour! This from a leading and highly profitable manufacturer of PVC doors and windows which has made huge profits over the years. Last year they made £3 million profit.
Conditions in the factory are terrible. Corners are regularly cut on health and safety. The latest move of the Big Brother management has been to install CCT cameras all over the shop floor to monitor every move, including visits to the toilet.
Dessian is an anti trade union company. They were only finally forced to recognise a union four years ago when a majority of the shop floor workers joined the T&GWU. Since then they have done everything possible to prevent the union from operating effectively. There are no proper negotiating procedures.
Dessian's response to the strike has been to try to threaten and intimidate the workforce back to work. They have refused point blank to negotiate. Instead they have sent out letters threatening substantial redundancies.
Their threats have had no effect. Despite using Agency staff and shifting office workers to production jobs (with no regard for the health and safety implications of allowing an untrained workers to operate cutting machinery) production has ground to a halt. Other workers should stand behind the Dessian workers to ensure that this low wage, anti union company is defeated.
Messages of support and donations should be sent to Stephen Magee, 31 Ava Crescent, Belfast BT7 3DU. Cheques should be made payable to "Dessian Fund".