Tony Burke, Assistant General Secretary of Unite, writes about Liverpool workers’ fight for justice against sack-happy Mayr-Melnhof Packaging.
Unite is intent on there being no hiding place for the Austrian-owned company that behaved in a cavalier and illegal fashion when it dismissed more than 140 workers in Liverpool.
Mayr-Melnhof Packaging (MMP) took full advantage of Britain’s notoriously lax labour laws when it locked out the employees in February in a dispute over redundancies.
They thought ‘that was that’, especially given the anti-union slant of the coalition. But Unite, as the UK’s is the largest union, is not without resources and we have been fighting back on the home turf of Mayr Melnhof Karton AG (MMK), MMP’s parent company, in Vienna.
The recent protest by workers from MMP’s sites across Europe as MMP’s shareholders gathered at Vienna’s five-star Grand Hotel, so worried the aristocratic Mayr-Melnhof family – who own 59 per cent of MMK – that they, apparently, scuttled off to their lawyers to issue threatening letters.
Surely a sign that concerted protest does work, when in a corner take cover behind an expensive lawyer.
Unite has followed this up with a complaint to the 34-nation Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) saying the company has broken the OECD’s guidelines on the behaviour and conduct of multinational enterprises.
What we want is meaningful and genuine negotiations to settle this dispute on Merseyside that has already blighted the reputation of MMP with its shareholders and UK customers, such as cereal maker Kellogg’s, and electrical manufacturer, Philips.
• Osborne’s dogmatic return to Thatcher-era employment law 10 Apr 2012
• Look Left – Workers prepare to fight slasher Osborne 25 Nov 2011
Unite won’t be deflected in its task of exposing injustice to working people and by senior MMK executives aping the blind arrogance of long-gone Imperial grandees.