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Keith Narey

Metal Box

(May 1982)

From Militant, No. 602, 21 May 1982, p. 14.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Workers at Metal Box Shipley are staging a 24-hour-a-day sit in at the firm in opposition to compulsory redundancies – including those of long standing shop stewards and leading members of the combine committee.

Meetings with management were called off when the management insisted that normal working meant acceptance of short time working without government subsidy. Workers rejected this and both sides are now digging in for what could be a long drawn out dispute.

Plans are now being drawn up for picketing other Metal Box plants, as factories at Leicester and Westhoughton DWI in Lancashire are being faced with closure.

International support is also vital as Metal Box, like many multinationals, are running down their UK operations to transfer jobs abroad, especially to countries with little or no trade union activity such as South Africa, USA, on non-union sites, and a ‘free development zone’ in India.

Thatcher’s allies in Chile have also benefited from Metal Box’s search for cheap labour and greater profits. In fact 67% of their returns are now from abroad.

Workers are also being asked to pick up the tab for management’s blunder in diversifying into central heating, the collapse of the market meaning more redundancies.

The cartel arrangement with US firm Continental Can has collapsed, leaving MB open to American penetration of UK markets, shattering Metal Box’s long held monopoly of the British open top market.

Meanwhile Metal Box have invested large amounts in high technology plant in America using non-union labour to reap big profits at the expense of the UK workforce.

The need for solidarity is essential as Shipley is seen as the centre of the combine activity, but also international links must be forged with Metal Box companies in Spain, South Africa, India and Holland and the USA, if this major multinational is to be beaten and finally controlled by the workforce. Cheques etc. payable to Metal Box JSSC Fund, and send to A. Mackin, 14 Westcliffe Road, Shipley, BD18 3EE.

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