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Biwaters workers fight closure
Unity to Save Jobs
THE BATTLE to save 700 jobs at Biwaters pipe works in Clay Cross, is getting underway. Since the takeover of the company by multinational Saint Gobain, with closure announced 45 minutes later, trade unionists, their families and community have been getting organised.
A women's support group has been formed. Two from the group were allowed in to the plant to see a director. Kath Esmond told 'The Socialist' what happened.
"I asked him if he knew anything of the history of Clay Cross. I told him in the 1970s we fought the Tory Housing Finance Act and were the only town in the country to stand out against it. In the 1980s we went through the miners' strike and most of the miners stayed out 'til the end. In the 1990s we had the poll tax and sent no end of buses down to demonstrate. Now it's your turn!
"He was smirking while I was talking. Then I said we were going over to France to tell other workers in Saint Gobain how we were being treated. He stopped smirking at that point and started to look worried. We then walked out. We're also going to Tyneside to tell trade secretary Steven Byers' constituents how he's treated us."
400 demonstrated through the North East Derbyshire town, with another march in nearby Chesterfield planned for 30 September.
A coach-load went to London to lobby Steven Byers. He claims not to have known the takeover would lead to closure!
Although pressure on him could delay closure, action may have to be taken in the plant as well. The full order book for spun pipes can only be met with Biwaters' machinery.
If any attempt to move plant or completed orders is blocked, and links made with the rest of the Saint Gobain workforce, their plans can be defeated. Other plants could suffer the same fate as Clay Cross unless a united campaign is built.
+ Send messages of support to: GMB Biwater Branch, Coney Green, Market Street, Clay Cross, S45 9NE. Tel: 01246 250740 x254.
In The Socialist 29 September 2000: