April 20, 2009
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How are European workers responding to the current crisis? Based on reporting by the Christian Science Monitor, it appears quite differently then workers in the U.S.
Here are some examples of recent European actions:
- “The British arm of Visteon, which is a major supplier to Ford, announced Tuesday [March 31, 2009] that it was cutting almost 600 jobs across the United Kingdom, including 210 in Northern Ireland. It filed for bankruptcy the same day. Workers immediately occupied Visteon’s manufacturing facility in Belfast, seeking an enhanced layoff package, which they say should be financed by the factory’s former owner, Ford Motor Co.. . . Workers in Visteon’s two plants in Britain also attempted occupations Wednesday [April 1]. Fifty people are protesting inside a plant at Basildon, Essex, while others are protesting outside a plant in Enfield, London.”
- “In Ireland, fired workers at Waterford Crystal occupied the world-renowned glassmaking factory after it was shut down. The occupation, which started in late January, ended after almost two months with the announcement that 176 jobs had been saved for at least six months.”
- “In Dundee, Scotland, staff at Prisme, a box manufacturer, are in the fifth week of an occupation and are reportedly planning to restart the business as a workers’ cooperative.”
- “In France, workers at Caterpillar took the dramatic step Tuesday of kidnapping four managers, who were held for 24 hours at the company’s plant in the southeastern city of Grenoble before being released Wednesday. . . . The action at Caterpillar was the fourth “bossnapping” in France in the last month. Last week, workers at 3M held executive Luc Rosselet overnight until management agreed to discuss job cuts with staff. The chief executive and director of human relations of Sony’s French arm were also held for a day by workers, and two managers were locked up at a Kleber-Michelin machine-parts factory in Toul.”
It certainly seems worth our time to learn more about these actions and the reasons European workers have had the capacity and inclination to respond so quickly and collectively to corporate actions.