Solid support was decisively demonstrated by the locked out MMP workers for continued action in their dispute. Of 139 papers issued in the secret ballot following a meeting of the workforce in a nearby hotel, 138 voted in favour of rejecting the so-called ‘offer’ by the MMP management. An agreement had been reached only weeks ago between Unite and MMP bosses on M’side to reduce the number of redundancies the firm had at first wanted – from 49 [out of a total of 149 workers] down to 37.
To save the 12 jobs workers had made concessions – losing pay over the next year to tune of between £1,000 to poss £2,000! The MMP ‘offer’ was a reversion, to not only their original demand for 49 jobs to go, but now, more to go “voluntarily” on top of those.
On the picket line today workers pointed out that the loss of such numbers put a question mark over the overall viability of the plant to operate as formerly – would MMP put some of the printing process out to tender, and maybe just keep the ‘finishing’ work on site as the machinery for ‘gluing’ the food cartons, etc., was the most modern at the plant.
Further – MMP continued to insist that it would not meet the formerly agreed redundancy terms, i.e. that of paying 3 weeks wages for every year worked. It insisted on the following: a week and a quarter wages for every year for those aged 18 to 21, 2 weeks for those aged 21 to 41, and 2 and a half for those aged 41 years and over! This and the redundancy selection process of MMP had fuelled the start of the dispute on 10 February.
To add further insult to injury MMP managers now claim that they want to discipline up to 15 workers whom managers claim undertook ‘provocative’ actions around the early part of the dispute between the 10 and 18 of February! The workers obviously demand that no reprisals be carried out on union activists.
From 6.00am this morning the official strike by the ‘finishing’ workforce – about 20% of the total – had ended. Up to now the other 80% had been locked out since the start of that strike – but had nevertheless been receiving their normal wages. Now all the workers are locked out the feeling is that MMP will stop all the wages.
In anticipation of a hardening of the dispute the stewards today drew up, for the first time, rotas for a 24 hour picket of the factory [up to now no picketing had been in place to cover the night shift]. Cardboard packaging for the Kellogs cornflakes factory in Manchester, whose own lines were now only running at 20% capacity, are still in the MMP Bootle plant and management may now attempt to take these out of the plant and transport them to Manchester.
Message from Jennie Formby, Unite Trade Union National Officer, Food Drink and Tobacco. Please take this up in your TU branches, workplaces, and seek donations to the fund.
You can support locked out workers by sending cheques to the hardship fund made payable to ‘Sogat Progress Fund’ to:
*Phil Morgan, Unite the Union, *2 Chantry Court, Forge Street, Crewe, Cheshire CW1 2DL tel: 01270 500 240
And visit them on the picket line if you can, every day from 8.30am Mayr-Melnhof Packaging (MMP), Dunnings Bridge Rd, Bootle, L30 6TR