Friday, March 10, 2006

Lockout 484

How many times have you listened to the following statement: trade unions are now obsolete. They were necessary to protect workers' pay and conditions, the conventional argument runs, but are now led by greedy and corrupt union barons who make unreasonable demands at the expense of the taxpayer and economic efficiency.

However, on occasion, a particularly acrimonious industrial dispute comes to the fore, highlighting the continuing, vital role of unions in the workforce and wider community. The Gate Gourmet controversy in Britain was a good example of this. The story of Lockout 484 in Meredosia, Illinois is another.

I first read about this story in the Monthly Review zine. Take a look yourself. The brutal attempt by the Celanese Corporation to attack the living standards of their chemical plant workers through breaking their union, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, in a lockout, shows that more employment protection, rather than less, is necessary. The use of strike-breaking private security firms like Special Response, and the pro-business agenda of the judiciary, both exposed in Lockout 484, should convince everybody that employers cannot simply be trusted to secure for workers a fair deal.

Without solidarity between working people, and independent and strong trade unions, no one is safe from the profit-grabbing machinations of global capitalism.

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