UNITE for Rob Williams

April 29, 2009

Indymedia reports on another development in the resistance to factory closures in the UK. Following on from the occupation of car-parts maker Visteon’s Enfield plant, a UNITE trade union organiser at the Linamar factory in Swansea has been sacked. Apparently, bosses called Rob Williams into their office and dismissed him due to an “irretrievable breakdown of trust.”

Rob Williams speaking in front of Visteon workers in London

Williams had visited all three Visteon plants in the UK, and worked on the protesters’ behalf. As Indymedia’s correspondent comments, “his sacking is likely to be linked to his role in this struggle.” Williams himself told the Socialist Party’s website that “They accepted that I haven’t committed any acts of gross misconduct and basically said it’s because everything they try and do in the plant the union challenges, so it’s blatantly for trade union activities.”

However, immediately after hearing of Williams’ dismissal, workers on his line downed tools. According to Williams, he then “ran through the offices, through the plant into the union office which the company can’t open” and when “five policemen [were] brought onto the site to get me out…the boys came round the office, refused to go” causing police to leave the site.

According to the Socialist Party, after the spontaneous protest, “Linamar management have been forced to the negotiating table” while “Rob’s sacking has been withdrawn and he remains convenor, but he is still suspended, and negotiations are taking place this morning.”

There isn’t much doubt that Williams has been targeted due to his solidarity work with the Visteon protesters. As he wrote in an article earlier in April, “If anyone is cynical about the potential power of the trade union movement, they should spend half an hour in one of the occupations. These workers have shown that it is possible to fight back and do something about the many attacks on jobs, pay and conditions.”

He then mentioned how Ford had spun off many of its sub-manufacturing operations to Visteon which, as a satellite company, could offer lesser severance benefits to its employees. “What changes everything now is the occupations” Williams wrote. “Now these workers are in with half a chance. If they had walked away on that Tuesday this struggle would have been to all intents and purposes over.”

Instead of letting the plants idle and decay, Williams backed a radical solution, concluding that “If Ford refuse to reopen these plants, they should be nationalised and run under democratic workers’ control and management. They could then be re-tooled to produce ‘green’ vehicles and other products for the benefit of society as a whole.”

Such thinking is obviously anathema to corporate bosses across British industry. Yet those articulating them are few, and imensely valuable so it’s imperative that organizers like Williams be defended, and its good to see that happening.

Linamar’s personnel manager can be reached here: linda.hasenfratz@linamar.com

Rob can be reached here: robbo@redwills.freeserve.co.uk


One Response to “UNITE for Rob Williams”

  1. […] have to know – if you stand up against power,  others will support you, something Rob Williams in Swansea knows all too well. Posted by szamko Filed in Uncategorized No Comments […]

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