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From The Socialist newspaper, 3 November 2009

Victory at Crown Aerosols

Workers in the unions Unite and the GPMU stopped production at Crown Aerosols UK in Sutton in Nottinghamshire on 19 October. This was in response to the management suspending three workers, allegedly for larking around during a period when there was a shortage of work. No machinery was running at the time of the alleged offence.

A number of workers in the factory felt that one of the three, GPMU father of chapel Andy Kirk, had already been targeted for dismissal by a new manager who took over last year. The manager had announced that compulsory redundancies would take place after he restructures the printshop (which prints the outside of sheets of steel). It appeared that a number of printers in their late fifties were offering to take redundancy but the manager was refusing to accept that option.

The weekend following this tension, 17 and 18 October, no volunteers for overtime could be found among the workforce. Then on Monday, with the news of the suspensions, workers left their jobs to assemble in the canteen before later walking out of the factory. All following shifts also refused to work, until Tuesday evening when the manager agreed that the suspended workers could start back on their next normal shift (although they still face an investigation).

Other issues remain unresolved, including being offered a lower pay rise than other UK Crown sites. The workers are waiting for ballot papers regarding official industrial action on the pay issue.

But the workforce has now had a massive boost in confidence in its ability to improve conditions through collective action. It proves that breaking Thatcher's anti-union laws by taking immediate industrial action can be very effective when the workforce has the courage to do it.

The workers thanked the union reps at Crown across Europe for their support and promises of solidarity action during the walkout; also Mansfield and Nottingham trades council and Chesterfield trades council for their support; and the National Union of Mineworkers who offered the full facilities of their Mansfield office.

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