report and photos by David Broder
A picket of the BMW-owned Mini factory in Cowley, near Oxford, was called for six o’clock this morning in response to last week’s sudden laying-off of 850 agency staff. The workers were informed that they had lost their jobs just one hour before the end of their last shift – provoking outrage at both management and the UNITE union, who colluded in keeping the affair a secret for the last three weeks. This sleight of hand was a blatant effort to stop workers effectively reacting to their redundancy, for example by occupying the plant as some workers suggested.
Today’s protest received a small degree of media coverage, after the widespread circulation last week of a video of workers confronting the union officials who had sold them down the river, such as site convenor Bernard Moss who told the Oxford Mail : “The problem we had was that we were under clear instruction we could not give out any information until the company said so. That caused a lot of concern from the workforce over the last couple of weeks. Although we are a trade union, we are employed by the company. If they give out an instruction, it would be a brave person to defy that. These days not many people would support a shop steward if he was sacked.” Clearly Moss has none too great an idea of the word ‘solidarity’ or the actual purpose of a trade union. Continue reading “protest by bmw/mini workers at cowley”