Archive for the ‘class’ Tag

Wal-Mart threatens union with injunction over website

Wal-Mart threatens union with injunction over website

Retail giant Wal-Mart Canada has filed for a court injunction against a workers’ rights website over alleged trademark infringement, but the union operating the site says it is simply an attempt to thwart organizing efforts and stifle expression.

“This injunction request is an over the top assault on freedom of speech and on our ability to effectively communicate with Walmart workers,” said a statement from Wayne Hanley, national president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada union.

The retail corporation filed the injunction with the Quebec Superior Court earlier this month in regards to the name, designs, slogans and images used on a UFCW website called walmartworkerscanada.ca.

“They recently revamped their site and in doing so we believe they have infringed on the Wal-Mart trademark,” said Andrew Pelletier, director of vice-corporate affairs for Wal-Mart Canada.

Specific complaints include phrases such as “Walmart Workers Canada” and “Union for Walmart Workers,” and photographs of people wearing blue vests – a uniform of Wal-Mart employees.

The injunction also seeks to stop the use of the website’s slogan “Get respect, live better,” which the corporation says plays on their new slogan “Save money, live better.”

Wal-Mart Canada is simply trying to protect its brand, Pelletier said, and denied it is attempting to thwart free speech.

“We are big advocates of free speech and open communications from the way we operate internally to the way we operate externally,” he said.

But the union strongly disagrees and launched a public awareness campaign this week in response to the injunction.

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Vestas workers besieged by riot police

Vestas workers besieged by riot police

Workers staging a sit-in at the soon-to-close Vestas wind turbine plant on the Isle of Wight are being starved out by police.

The police, many inside the factory and dressed in riot gear, have denied food to the workers who took over the factory offices last night, to protest about the closure of their factory. The police, operating with highly questionable legal authority, have surrounded the offices, preventing supporters from joining the sit-in, and preventing food from being brought to the protestors.

Around 20 workers at the Vestas Plant in Newport, on the Isle of Wight, occupied the top floor of offices in their factory to protest against its closure which will result in over 500 job losses.

Acting without an injunction, on private property, the police have repeatedly tried to break into the office where the protesting workers have barricaded themselves, and have threatened the workers with arrest for aggravated trespass, despite the fact that no damage has been done to the property where the protest is taking place. Police have also forcibly removed people from private property, another action that is of very questionable legality in the absence of a formal injunction.

The officer involved in the latter action was number 3606. The officer who appears to be in charge is 3115. It may help to let the local police authorities know that we are unhappy with their handling of the situation – in this case the email address to bombard is professional.standards@hampshire.pnn.police.uk

This heavy handed response is the latest in a long line of over-reactions to protest by various UK police forces.

For more updates on the Vestas occupation please visit Save Vestas.

Turbine factory shuts over sit-in

Turbine factory shuts over sit-in

A sit-in protest by about 25 workers has closed the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight.

Danish company Vestas Windsystems plans to lay off 625 workers at the end of July, despite rising profits.

It said the Newport factory was being closed due to reduced demand for wind turbines in northern Europe.

Those inside the Newport offices say they will stay until “someone listens”. Vestas said a consultation on the site’s future was still on-going.

The workers began their protest at about 1930 BST on Monday.

Warning for firms that set up trade union blacklist

Warning for firms that set up trade union blacklist

Major companies which set up and funded a secret blacklist to deny work to thousands of trade unionists will escape prosecution, it emerged today.

A judge fined a private investigator who operated the covert blacklist but said he was not the only person responsible but was financed by big “high street” companies. Major firms in the construction industry will be officially warned that they will be prosecuted if they set up a new blacklist.

Affected trade unionists said they were disappointed that companies which had wrecked workers’ lives had appeared to get away with it. They angrily confronted the private investigator, Ian Kerr, who hid his face as he was driven away.

Kerr, 66, was fined £5,000 at Knutsford crown court, Cheshire after admitting keeping a clandestine database of 3,000 workers for the past 15 years.

The court heard that more than 40 construction companies had given £600,000 in the past five years to Kerr’s agency to record personal and employment details of allegedly troublesome workers.

Total and unions reach deal on oil refinery wildcats

Total and unions reach deal on oil refinery wildcats

Early reports indicate a deal to end the bitter jobs dispute at the Total-run Lindsey oil refinery, which has led to unofficial walkouts by thousands of workers across the country.

The agreement follows talks between union leaders and employers of contract staff at the North Lincolnshire site. Unions said the deal involved the reinstatement of 647 workers sacked for taking unofficial strike action and would be put to the workers on Monday.

Total said it was pleased that “a positive conclusion” had been reached. In a statement on Friday, a spokesman for the company said:
Quote:

“Total is pleased that the contract companies and the unions were able to reach a positive conclusion at talks last night.

“We expect this means that the contractors will be able to get back to work as soon as possible and get the project completed on time and with no further disruption or additional costs.”

The Lindsey workers went on strike on 11 June after a sub-contractor cut 51 jobs. It is thought those people will also be offered the chance to return to work.

The dispute sparked wildcat sympathy walkouts involving thousands of workers at power stations and oil and gas facilities across the country.

Even in a slump, strikes and occupations can get results

Even in a slump, strikes and occupations can get results

A revolution is taking place in industrial relations, the Confederation of British Industry claims, courtesy of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. A new “solidarity of employers and their employees” has taken hold, John Cridland, the CBI’s deputy director-general enthused this week, as managements and staff roll up their sleeves to take the “difficult decisions” needed to survive the slump.

If so, news of the new understanding clearly hasn’t reached Lincolnshire, where hundreds of engineering ­construction workers at the Lindsey oil refinery burned dismissal notices on Monday after they were sacked for going on strike – and thousands walked out in sympathy across the energy industry for the third time in five months.

The latest dispute began nearly a fortnight ago, when a subcontractor for Total, which owns the refinery, made 51 workers redundant while another contractor was hiring 61 staff on the same project. After hundreds stopped work in protest and unofficial strikes spread by text and flying pickets across Britain, 647 workers were summarily sacked on Thursday night.

By any reckoning, this was surely a provocative and self-defeating move. Not only had the same workforce already demonstrated its capacity to shut down the site – and significant sections of the wider industry – if it believed agreements were being undercut. But the layoffs were in direct violation of a deal to settle an earlier dispute. Perhaps the idea was finally to bring to heel what one manager described as an “unruly workforce”. But after point-blank refusals to negotiate until the workers had applied for their jobs back, the contractors blinked once again and were back in talks on Tuesday, now due to be resumed .

This was, after all, the same group of workers whose unofficial strikes stopped refineries and power stations all over the country in February after a Sicilian contractor shipped in a non-union, and apparently less skilled, Italian and Portuguese workforce. That first Lindsey walkout was portrayed as anti-foreigner because of “British jobs for British workers” placards held by some strikers, as to a lesser extent was another strike in May over a refusal to take on locally based labour at ExxonMobil’s South Hook terminal in Wales.

In fact, both walkouts were clearly aimed at halting the exploitation of EU directives and European court ­judgments to undermine the terms and conditions of all workers in the industry, British and migrant alike – which is why hundreds of Polish workers joined the stoppages. And, crucially, they were successful. In a profitable and highly contractualised industry, a tightly knit workforce has turned a fragmentation designed to benefit employers to their own advantage.

Now, as the unions prepare to ballot 30,000 workers to turn the wildcat walkouts into an official strike, they look set to prevail again – just as Grangemouth oil refinery workers and Shell tanker drivers did last year in battles over pension rights and pay. Success seems to be catching.

Foreign Secretary “dismayed” at calls for boycott of Israel

From the Foreign Office:

Foreign Secretary David Miliband has expressed dismay that motions calling for boycotts of Israel are being discussed by trade union congresses and conferences. He said:

‘The Government is dismayed that motions calling for boycotts of Israel are being discussed at trade union congresses and conferences this summer.

Mr Lewis, Minister of State responsible for the Middle East, is this week meeting representatives of leading British unions in order to make clear the Government’s firm belief that calls for boycotts of Israel cannot and do not contribute to peace.

The Scottish Trades Union Council has released a response:

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) today (Wednesday 24 June) rejected the Foreign Office’s “dismay” at trade union’s supporting boycotts of Israel, and suggested this is an indication that the UK Government is out of step with the views of workers on this matter.

The Foreign Secretary David Miliband MP yesterday stated that: “The Government is dismayed that motions calling for boycotts of Israel are being discussed at trade union congresses and conferences this summer”.

STUC Assistant Secretary Mary Senior said: “I am pleased that the UK Government is beginning to recognise the strength of feeling in the British trade union movement for the need for urgent action against the state of Israel for its continued violations of human rights of Palestinians. Rather than expressing his dismay to us, the Foreign Secretary should be expressing his outrage in the strongest terms to the Israeli Government for its attacks on the people of Gaza, for the growing Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, and for the ongoing breaches of international human rights laws”.

Iranian bus workers’ statement on the demonstrations

Iranian bus workers’ statement on the demonstrations

Statement of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company about the recent unrest sparked by discontent with the claimed results of the 2009 election.

Vahed Syndicate – Any Suppression or threat of civil liberty condemned

In line with the recognition of the labour rights, we request that June 26 Action Day – Justice for Iranian workers – to include the human rights of all Iranians who have been deprived of their rights.

In recent days, we continue witnessing the magnificent demonstration of millions of people from all ages, genders, and national and religious minorities in Iran. They request that their basic human rights, particularly the right to freedom and to choose independently and without deception be recognized. These rights are not only constitutional in most of the countries, but also have been protected against all odds.

Amid such turmoil, one witnesses threats, arrests, murders and brutal suppression that one fears only to escalate on all its aspects, resulting in more innocent bloodshed, more protests, and certainly no retreats. Iranian society is facing a deep political-economical crisis. Million-strong silent protests, ironically loud with un-spoken words, have turned into iconic stature and are expanding from all sides. These protests demand reaction from each and every responsible individual and institution.

As previously expressed in a statement published on-line in May of this year, since the Vahead Syndicate does not view any of the candidates support the activities of the workers’ organizations in Iran, it would not endorse any presidential candidate in the election. Vahed members nevertheless have the right to participate or not to participate in the elections and vote for their individually selected candidate.

Wildcat strikes spread as workers burn dismissal letters

As reported by libcom.org:

Thousands of workers across England and Wales have walked out in support of 647 Lindsey oil refinery construction staff sacked for staging unofficial strikes.

It comes as Lindsey workers burned dozens of dismissal letters in protest.

Total, which runs the facility in North Lincolnshire, gave them until 1700 BST on Monday to reapply for their jobs.

The wildcat strikes involving about 3,000 workers are being held at eight sites including Sellafield in Cumbria and the Ensus biofuel site in Teesside.

Total said it was “encouraged” by the amount of feedback from workers involved, but would not know how many had reapplied for their jobs until the end of the week because of the number of sub-contractors on the site.

“Our government will be subservient to companies like this – but we won’t” Kenny Ward, Sacked worker

The Lindsey workers first withdrew their labour on 11 June in protest at a sub-contractor axing 51 jobs while another employer on the site was hiring people.

Last week, Total announced it had dismissed 647 construction workers following the unofficial strikes. They had been building another plant next to the existing site in Killingholme.

Workers across the UK have walked out in sympathy, with thousands downing tools on Monday in unofficial action.

See also: Independent report.

Energy wildcat strikes spread across UK

Energy wildcat strikes spread across UK

The oil refinery wildcat strike over redundancies has escalated as workers from several power stations and oil terminals across the UK took unofficial industrial action.

The dispute flared a week ago at the Lindsey oil refinery in Lincolnshire when a contractor laid off 51 workers while another employer on the site was hiring staff.

Around 1,200 contract workers at the terminal, which is owned by Total, have been taking unofficial action all week as efforts were made to convene talks.

Sources said today that workers at several other sites across the country joined the industrial action, hitting power stations at Drax and Eggborough in Yorkshire, Ratcliffe and West Burton in Nottinghamshire, Fiddlers Ferry in Cheshire and Aberthaw in South Wales.

Contractors at a BP refinery near Hull also joined the strike action.