Article from the Sept 2004 edition, Socialist Voice
Dessian strike report
"The union led me straight to the dole queue!"
AFTER EIGHT weeks on strike Dessian workers returned to work at the start of July. The strike began over the sacking of one of the two T&GWU shop stewards by this Belfast firm.
The workers who were still on strike felt they had no option but to return to work as the law would have allowed Dessian to sack them once the strike passed the eight weeks mark.
Most felt that they had been let down by the union. Workers rightly complained that T&GWU officials had done very little to develop the strike or to build support among other workers.
One striker who was made redundant during the dispute commented: "The union led me straight to the dole queue!"
Shop steward, Steven Magee spoke to Socialist Voice: "It has been difficult to keep up the union organisation after the strike.
"We went out just as pay negotiations were due to start. Dessian are now saying there will be no pay increase for this year.
"But the fall out from the strike has not all been one way. The General Manager, who provoked it, has been demoted and replaced by the son-in-law of the owner.
"They may try to de-recognise the union. Although our members feel the union let them down, they know that without a union management can walk over them and we need to make sure Dessian stays unionised."