SIMCLAR, part of a world-wide electronics conglomerate who have dozens of factories across the world, informed a stunned workforce on 29th January that 2 plants in Irvine and nearby Kilwinning, Ayrshire, were to close with immediate effect. There would be no redundancy or severance pay, despite employees having up to 20 years service. The move by SIMCLAR is in violation of the contracts they gave to workers and now the DTI are investigating the company after allegations by trade union COMMUNITY that SIMCLAR transferred all its contracts, finances and assets to one of their other companies prior to filing for bankruptcy, which may well be illegal.
Steve, a father of 2 young children, worked at the plant for more than 4 years and told Socialist Appeal that at Christmas time management at the factory praised the efforts of staff and told them the order books were full. "It stinks," he said. "There are definitely orders, but bosses in America transferred the orders along with all the assets of the Ayrshire based factories, before declaring the Irvine and Kilwinning plants bankrupt. They have asset-stripped these plants and moved the orders elsewhere to save on wages. It is a disgraceful way to treat workers who made the company one of the biggest in the world. Now I don't know where I'll find a job. They're hard to come by here. They told us in a letter handed to us on 29th January that our employment was terminated and the factory was closing with immediate affect. I went home and my partner wouldn't believe me at first."
On 2nd February following a meeting of COMMUNITY members at the plant, the sacked workers committed themselves to a campaign to try and save their jobs. About 80 occupied one of the plants for a day, including COMMUNITY organiser for Scotland, Willie Paterson. Willie said, "Sam Russell (Chairman of SIMCLAR Group) appears to have no shame about how he is treating a loyal, highly skilled workforce…
The SIMCLAR employees will not receive one penny in redundancy pay and the consultation period they are legally and contractually entitled to. COMMUNITY trade union believes that SIMCLAR has manipulated this whole situation in order to dump their responsibilities onto taxpayers who will have to pick up the bill. It is yet another example of corporate greed."
The SIMCLAR website boasts of its success as a giant in the industry and of "extensive experience among personnel" and "expert individuals". The investigation by the DTI, ordered by Minister Alan Wilson, will be very interesting. In this case it would appear that a massive company operating across 3 continents simply decided to move their operation elsewhere after securing a cheaper workforce. Even in today's "flexible" (for flexible read easily sackable) Britain, it seems the working class are asked to jump through hoops by exploiters; working the longest hours in Europe for the least wages of any developed country. Yet in the last analysis, the capitalist class not only hold all the aces – they produce others from up their sleeve as they see fit, without regard for the human consequences, the contractual obligations to their employees and even the law of the land. Instead of bringing more jobs and opportunities the present anti-trade union laws shackle working people and tip the wink to ruthless employers like SIMCLAR to treat them in the most despicable way.
This episode has serious repercussions for all workers. The first and most important being that everybody who sells their labour power to an employer for a wage must join or organise themselves in trade unions. The second lesson for working class people everywhere is that the boss class treat their employees as simply another commodity and contracts are torn up like waste paper when it suits the capitalists. It is also clear that workers shackled by Thatcher's anti-trade union laws as continued under Blair are the easiest to sack in the developed world.
With an election due in May, the people of Ayrshire and beyond must bring pressure to bear on SIMCLAR and support the 420 sacked workers. As more and more companies move away because of cheaper labour costs and more profits, only a strong trade union movement can represent working people and combat this type of behaviour by rotten employers like SIMCLAR. Send messages of support to Willie Paterson at COMMUNITY trade union, Hamilton Road, Motherwell, North Lanarkshire.
Visit www.community-tu.org Code ID 90225, for more information.