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UK glass workers’ strike wins pay deal

16 July, 2014Unite the Union members at Tyneside Safety Glass in Gateshead, England, went on strike for three weeks in response to management’s miserly wage offer in June and July. The workers’ action won a good new contract and members returned to work on 14 July.

Unite’s regional officer Bob Bolam thanked IndustriALL and affiliated unions around the world for support messages during the strike:

We are happy that members at Tyneside Glass are back to work on a new contract with improved conditions. The messages of support and solidarity received during the strike from IndustriALL and its affiliates really made a difference. Thank you.

Around 112 of the company’s 170-strong workforce took the successful action at two facilities in the Team Valley Trading Estate. Members voted to accept the new deal by a ratio of 7:1. The new three-year contract awards workers year on year salary increases and without the longer working time schedule originally pushed by management. The original offer from management would have meant a pay cut in real terms. That deal was rejected by 99 per cent of the bargaining unit.

During the strike, members marched from the toughened glass works to the bulletproof glassworks on industrial estate, a place with a history of industrial action. Local Members of Parliament Ian Mearns and Dave Anderson marched with striking Unite members.

Tyneside Glass workers were last on strike in 2010. During that strike the management used Polish contract agency workers to undermine the strikers and keep production going. This time, those same agency workers were striking and marching together with the rest of the strikers. One of the priorities of the last strike was to unionize the agency workers and win good permanent employment contracts for them. Unite members continue to fight against the use of precarious agency work at the company.

Tyneside Safety Glass make toughened, laminated, bullet resistant and heated glass for the automotive, security and defence sectors, rail, motorsport and architectural industries worldwide.

IndustriALL Global Union assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan stated:

Once again we see that only the solidarity between regular and contract workers, and between trade unions in the country and abroad enables us to win this kind of fight, win good conditions for workers and stand up against increased outsourcing.