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MERSEYSIDE workers and trade unionists protesting against the “shameful” victimisation of a union representative faced down scabs and angry managers attempting to drive cars into them at their picket line.
Around 100 trade unionists gathered at the gate of the Colloids plastic manufacturing plant in Kirkby, Liverpool, this morning in support of workers who have walked out against the sacking of Unite representative George Gore.
Solidarity delegations from Liverpool Trades Council, Liverpool Walton Constituency Labour Party, Manchester Trades Council and the Communication Workers Union were among those in attendance.
However the mass picket became increasingly tense as several scabs unable to enter the factory gates tried to drive their cars into the picket.
Workers say they recognised a production manager in a car who became increasingly angry and started shouting at another worker to drive through the people on the picket.
Liverpool Labour councillor Sarah Doyle, who was present, told the Star: “A scab drove into us and shouted at us.
“He then began revving his engine up to intimidate and aggravate us.
“Just afterwards a man people knew as a manager started shouting ‘just go into them, just go into them’.
“He started pressing forward and several of us had to push back with our hands onto the car.”
Unite chair Tony Woodhouse was among those who were pressing back against the scab’s car and the pickets were eventually moved aside by police.
Ms Doyle added: “This is shameful behaviour, but reflective of Colloids’ total disregard for the health of safety of their workers.
“They’re happy to sack a union man on safety grounds but are egging on reckless driving outside of the plant.”
Mr Gore was told to leave the factory on Friday February 8 after walking in without wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
On the following Monday he was informed of his suspension and the launch of an investigation into his conduct.
Mr Gore admitted to making a mistake but pointed out that, in the footage shown to him, someone else was also not wearing PPE.
However he said that the response from management was: “This is not about them, this is about you.”
Speaking to the Star he said: “It was admitting they were targeting me. Since that meeting the manager who sacked me has been out on the shop floor, on the same spot as me, without PPE.
“We’ve got pictures of management on forklifts standing 20 feet in the air without PPE. It’s one rule for some, another rule for others.”
The workers are staying out until Mr Gore is reinstated.
When asked about scab workers driving into the picket, Mr Gore said: “It’s totally, totally wrong.
“The police are stopping us from peacefully protesting, we’re not causing any trouble, yet they’re seemingly happy with scabs driving cars into people.”
Unite regional officer Patrick Coyne told the Star: “Right from day one this has been about applying health and safety consistently.
“They’ve dismissed George for an alleged breach of health and safety.
“Managers who have committed far worse breaches have been completely ignored, and have not been dismissed.
“The manager who dismissed George was seen in the workshop without any PPE after George’s dismissal — a breach of health and safety — and this hasn’t been dealt with.
“George recognises it is a conduct issue and a warning is appropriate — not dismissal.
“If it is gross misconduct they would have dismissed the managers.”
Merseyside Police took statements from several individuals on the picket line who were involved in the fracas but did not pursue the incident further.
Colloids said that they would respond to the Star for comment but had not done so by the time of going to press.
Solidarity cheques to the strikers can be made payable to Unite NW/84 Alpla branch, and sent to Pat Coyne, Unite the Union, 100 Hallgate, Wigan, WN1 1HP.
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