Thursday, March 19, 2009

[olympiaworkers] Canadian auto-workers occupy factory March 19, 2009

A group of disgruntled workers at a recently closed auto parts supply
company in Windsor, Ontario have taken over the plant.

In the latest twist in a saga that has been brewing since two auto
plants in the area shut down early last week, about a dozen workers
occupied the Aradco plant Tuesday night. They have welded the doors
shut from the inside and say they will not leave until they get what
they are owed.

Work at the Aradco plant stopped last week because of a dispute
between the plant owners and Chrysler, which has mused publicly about
pulling out of its Canadian operations unless unionized workers make
substantial concessions.

The Canadian Auto Workers Union that represents the Aradco workers
say that in the wake of the shutdown, the workers are owed money for
severance pay, vacation pay, and termination pay totalling $1.7 million.

The plant's owner, Catalina Precision Products Ltd. has offered the
workers four weeks of severance pay or about $200,000 in total for all
80 workers.

The plant builds parts for Chrysler. Since last week, Chrysler has
been trying to go in and collect parts and tools it says are its, but
the workers are not allowing it. They have been blocking trucks from
coming on to the property. Union representatives say the workers fear
that if the tools and parts are removed, they will have no negotiating

"Some of the workers here have decided to take over the plant.
That's the only thing they have in order to try to get the monies that
are owing to them," said Gerry Farnham, president of the CAW local
representing the workers.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

[olympiaworkers] 106 workers fired over wildcat in South Africa March 11, 2009

The world's largest ferrochrome producer, Xstrata said on Wednesday it had
dismissed 106 workers at its Rustenburg smelter in South Africa for taking
part in an illegal strike over pay.

The workers had demanded to be paid 50 percent of their wages as well as
shift allowances during their extended leave in December, when such
payments are normally not due to them, Songezo Zibi, Xstrata's spokesman

"They took part in a wildcat strike, an unprotected strike and did not
follow the process of calling a strike," Zibi said.

The Rustenburg smelter has a total of 800 workers, he said.

Zibi said Xstrata had sent the workers on the long leave due to a drop in
demand for ferrochrome, requiring big cutbacks in output and the closure
of its furnaces. Xstrata's rivals in South Africa have also cut back
drastically on production.

South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said it would protest
the sacking of the workers and would ask Xstrata to re-hire them and call
a strike to force the issue.

"We are going to dispute the sackings and go on strike until sense
prevails and the workers are hired back," Lesiba Seshoka, spokesman for
the NUM told Reuters.

Seshoka said the workers had alleged they were sacked for not taking part
in a company programme meant to address HIV/AIDS at the workplace. He said
the workers said they were dismissed for not taking part in a compulsory
health briefing in which they said they were to be told they would have to
take an HIV test.

South African law says no worker can be forced to take an HIV test.

Zibi denied the worker's claims, saying the company had no intentions to
force the workers to take the test. He said the workers went on strike
during a meeting called to discuss HIV/AIDS, and demanded the December