Peter Hadden Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Peter Hadden

Montupet: Belfast workers walk out

“No one can stick the conditions in there”

(April 1997)

From The Socialist [UK], 25 April 1997.
Transcribed and marked up by Ciaran Crossey.

Three hundred production workers at Montupet car components plant on the outskirts of Belfast have walked out on unofficial strike over pay and conditions.

Workers had balloted to reject a derisory pay offer of 1.4% and were on a work-to-rule when management provoked the walkout by suspending two men.

Montupet is a French owned company which set up in Northern Ireland in 1989 backed by lavish hand-outs. To date they have been given £147 million of public money in return for promises which have not been kept.

On the picket line, which is being maintained 24 hours a day, the mood is defiant and determined. As well as pay it is the conditions in the plant and the autocratic manner of the management which have led to this dispute.

Despite being in an area of high unemployment on the edge of West Belfast, there is a huge turnover of staff “because no one can stick the conditions in there”, as one picket put it.

The union, the AEEU, has disowned the strike and urged a return to work. Two days after walking out every worker received a letter from the union warning them that they would be sacked if they stayed out and making it clear they would get no backing from the union.

Disgracefully, the senior AEEU official locally has denied them any facilities in AEEU House in Belfast. When one of the shop stewards tried to use a phone to make a local call from the union office he was stopped as it could be interpreted as giving support to an illegal strike!

Despite this pressure a mass meeting on Friday 18 April voted unanimously to stay out for as long as it takes. Pickets that day scored a victory when a lorry delivering gas was turned away.

A message of support from the Liverpool dockers was read out at the mass meeting which received a huge response. The shop stewards quickly despatched a message of support back to Liverpool.

Denied any resources or support by the AEEU. the Montupet workers urgently need the support of other trade unionists in Britain and Ireland if they are to maintain the strike. They have no office to work from, no facilities on the picket line and no strike pay.

Messages of support can be sent via the Socialist Party, 36 Victoria Square, Belfast. Cheques should be made payable to Montupet Strike Fund and can be sent via the above address.

Peter Hadden Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 19 February 2016