UPDATE: Unite members working at the multinational Refesco-Gerber have just won an important victory against their own bullying bosses which is great news (read more about this victory here).
Earlier this year Smurfit Kappa, the corrugated packaging company, proudly announced that their global revenues “had increased to €8.083 billion for the year from €7.957 billion the previous year, while pre-tax profits rose to €378m from €294m after what the company called a ‘solid operating performance’.”
Sounds nice doesn’t it? One would imagine that their employees might benefit from such a profitable situation… but no. This week 108 members of Unite the union based in Northampton undertook a 48-hour strike in support of their two dismissed colleagues who as senior stewards in the union have stood up to the company over ‘race to the bottom’ contracts.
Unite members voted by 60 per cent for strike action and brought around fifty people out onto their vibrant picket line. Unite regional officer Mick Orpin said:
“Both our members were instrumental in resisting second generation contracts being introduced into the workplace last year which would have meant new starters getting paid less than existing workers for the same job. We call on Smurfit Kappa to reinstate the two stewards immediately – the management is behaving in a manner more suited to the industrial relations of 19th century than as a modern economy which is the world’s sixth largest.”
Reporting on the successful strike action, Paul Metcalfe Deputy FoC added:
“The majority of people supporting this weeks strike were not activists or militants just ordinary working people who were prepared to give their time and support to what they believed to be unfair and unjustified actions by the company management. Most of them had never been on strike before and behaved with courage and dignity throughout the action and have sent a message to the company that surely cannot be ignored.”
The three parliamentary candidates for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) were united in sending the following message of solidarity to the workers:
“Smurfit Kappa are proving to the world that they are content to ride roughshod over the rights of their employees. They should immediately move to reinstate the two Unite stewards who have been unfairly dismissed from their workplace, who have been attacked by their managers because they demanded that their fellow workers be treated fairly. It is outrageous that a company like Smurfit Kappa feels they can continue to intimidate their employees, and TUSC sends a strong message of solidarity to the Unite members who have been forced into taking strike by their bullying management.”