Like many workers today, they have been made pay the price for the economic crisis which the rich bankers, speculators and bosses have created. As of June 2009, Nortel had reserves of $2.5 billion, with $400million in the UK subsidiary. The money is there to pay redundancy for workers and their pensions, yet the administrators refuse to pay workers what they’re owed.
In February, Nortel created a bonus fund of $43million per quarter. This has been used to pay massive bonuses to senior executives. And what about the workers who have created all this wealth in the first place? They are expected to accept losing their jobs, with no compensation whatsoever! Rightly, Nortel workers are not accepting this. Workers have been protesting outside the plant in Monkstown and the administrators offices (Ernst & Young) in Belfast demanding the company pays up.
Which way forward?
Nortel workers find themselves in a similar position to the Visteon workers. One of the differences is that instead of shutting down the plant suddenly, Nortel have chosen to sack workers gradually over months in order to avoid workers taking the approach workers at Visteon took and occupying the plant. The remaining workforce must anticipate managements intentions to close the plant and prepare now to take action, including the possibility of occupying the factory. Management must not be allowed to remove the machinery from the plant. The disappointing lack of lead from the leadership of the Unite union is to be regretted. But if a stand was to be taken in Belfast and a call made to the rest of the Nortel workforce in the UK to take action, then it is possible to build support to keep the factory open. If Nortel cannot guarantee the future of the Monkstown plant, then the campaign must be taken to the doorsteps of Stormont with the demand that the Assembly should nationalise the plant to save much needed jobs.
We need fighting, democratic unions
The majority of trade union leaders today are unfortunately not willing or capable of fighting on behalf of members. Many of them are on the same wages as those of the bosses and are completely out of touch with workers. The Socialist Party campaigns within the unions for fighting democratic unions with union officials regularly elected by the members and to receive only the wages of those they represent.
- No more job losses
- Nortel must pay workers every penny owed – no payments to banks or bonuses to bosses until workers receive at least full pensions and proper redundancy
- Stop the pensions robbery
- Save Monkstown plant from closure – Assembly must nationalise plant if closure threatened
7 August 09