Then they are informed that they face another £10 deduction if they fail to turn in their ID cards immediately despite complaints from the workers that they wouldn’t be able to get to their vehicles in the car park. At this point, a worker walks right up on stage and makes a big show of handing in his work wear and ID card.
On top of all this good news, the manager then reads a letter of apology from their boss apologizing for not being present. This causes huge offence and her attempt to read it out is met with a barrage of yells and heckling.
Pointing at a union official a worker asks “Where has the union been?” Now, the volume in the room goes right up to full blast as the crowd demands an answer.
In what must be considered some kind of attempt at self defence the UNITE official offers, “We are here. We could have taken the easy route but we are here”. By ‘easy route’, we assume he means not showing up at all for the sacking of hundreds of union members. This is an amazing illustration of what some union officials think the nature of their work is.
He continues, “The hours you got were negotiated by the union…I won’t apologize for the shift change but, the way that it’s been done to you is a disgrace and you should ask the BMW people why they done it to you that way. They done it, not the union! They wouldn’t listen to us!” The crowd responds “What the f*** are we paying you for?” A worker says “We pay the union. The union is a corrupt organization (cheers of agreement). They’ve given us one hour’s notice that we have no job in a credit crisis!” Another worker yells “We want our money back!”
The workers accuse the union of having plenty of time to tell them what their situation is so they could at least prepare but, almost as if doing the bidding of the company. they chose to remain silent. A worker yells, “You lied to us!….You represent us, not BMW. Do you understand?”
In his reply, the union official reveals his total capitulation to the idea that workers, through no fault of their own, have to pay for the mistakes of the bosses who have run industry and the economy into the ground; “Understand this! That it is not us that are getting rid of you. We have tried to negotiate as best we could given the circumstances. Listen, this is not of anyone’s doing. This is the climate we’re living in. It’s happening everywhere. We’re not saying that the notice period you were given is right. We condemn the company for that but, we do not employ you.”
He then goes on to tell his members that this is not the end of the redundancies and lists the next ones in line. When someone in the crowd throws something at them, he ends the meeting.
This video shows in graphic terms, the orientation and limitations of the present union leadership. They abide by the rules set by the bosses. They confine their negotiating and demands within the boundaries set up by the companies. What is the union for if not to defend workers under attack? The workers shouldn’t pay for the crisis that is not of their making. If companies are riddled with problems and can turn people’s lives upside down, they should be nationalized under worker’s control and production and the whole lot should re-organized to produce things that people want and need – not just stuff for profit.
The union is our organization but it’s been hijacked. We need to take it back.