The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.60/No.12           March 25, 1996 
Liverpool Dockers Win International Solidarity  

This column is devoted to reporting the resistance by working people to the employers' assault on their living standards, working conditions, and unions.

We invite you to contribute short items to this column as a way for other fighting workers around the world to read about and learn from these important struggles. Jot down a few lines about what is happening in your union, at your workplace, or other workplaces in your area, including interesting political discussions.

LIVERPOOL, England - Dockers here have been winning international solidarity for their fight against the Mersey Docks and Harbour Co. The shipping boss sacked 320 dock workers last September for refusing to cross a picket line set up by workers at a subcontractor.

Members of the International Longshoremen's Association in the eastern United States have refused to handle cargo from the Atlantic Container Line trading with Liverpool. This is the main shipping line that uses Liverpool's Seaforth container terminal. Dockers in Australia have held up a number of ships trading with Liverpool that belong to the Belgian-registered ABC line. At an international solidarity conference in February, delegates from dockers' unions in 17 countries pledged to boycott ships bound for Liverpool.

More than 3,000 people rallied in Liverpool February 2 to support the dockers. About a week later the workers rejected the port bosses' latest "final offer" to rehire 40 workers and give 25,000 ($38,000) to each remaining worker. The unionists demand all the workers be rehired. Another solidarity march and rally is set for March 23.

Firestone workers end strike in Quebec
JOLIETTE, Quebec - Workers at the Bridgestone-Firestone tire factory here voted February 23 to end their strike. The 734 members of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (CSN) had been on strike since August 22.

Many union members who voted to return to work did so out of financial hardship and concern about company threats to eliminate jobs, not because they liked the contract. The company waged an intense campaign, threatening to transfer 25 percent of production out of the plant if the offer was not accepted.

Two weeks earlier, workers had voted by an 84 percent margin against another "final offer." At that time, the company refused to apply seniority in a return to work. Now, workers will go back to work according to seniority and 90 percent of disciplinary measures imposed during the strike have been withdrawn. The union and several officials still face possible fines of up to $243,500 for alleged labor code violations. One union executive committee member, André Laramée, remains fired.

The main issue for the unionists was working conditions. They wanted relief from the 12-hour shifts they have been working for more than six years. The union won the right to three days off without pay, but with many restrictions. Meanwhile, under the new agreement, workers who take more than eight days off per year will be subject to disciplinary measures, including firing.

Labor board: Firestone workers fired illegally
DES MOINES, Iowa - The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued several complaints against the Bridgestone-Firestone tire manufacturer, stemming from a 10-month strike that ended last year without a contract.

In February the general counsel of the NLRB ruled that Firestone had illegally fired seven workers at its plant here, including the local union president at the time, and directed its Minneapolis office to issue a complaint against the company if the firings were not resolved. The counsel upheld the strike- related firings of five other workers.

Additionally, the NLRB's Indianapolis office filed a complaint requiring Firestone reinstate union members who haven't yet been called back to work at the five struck facilities.

The complaint also charges the company with illegally replacing union workers with nonunion replacements. If the complaint is validated, the company could be forced to pay affected union members back pay retroactive to January of last year.

Telephone workers hold protest in Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - On February 13 about 400 members of the Independent Union of Telephone Employees (UIET) held a lunchtime picket outside the central offices of the government- owned Puerto Rico Telephone Company.

The company reneged on a previous agreement to fill positions left vacant by workers who accepted an early retirement plan.

The telephone company had agreed to fill 30 percent of the slots with temporary employees who would work no more than one year. Temporary employees receive lower wages than regular workers and no benefits.

Contributors to this weeks column are: Tim Rigby, member of the Transport and General Workers Union in Manchester, England; Philippe Tremblay, member of the CSN at Bridgestone-Firestone in Joliette, Quebec, and Monica Jones, member of Canadian Auto Workers Local 728 in Ste. Thérese, Quebec; Bill Kalman, member of the United Transportation Union in Des Moines, Iowa; and Ron Richards in San Juan.

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