Susan Fitzgerald, Unite Industrial Officer and Socialist Party Activist.

The Socialist spoke to Susan Fitzgerald, Socialist Party activist and Unite Industrial Officer representing workers at Schlumberger in Newtownabbey.

“At the end of October, global management arrived at the plant in Newtownabbey and used a power point to explain to the workforce that, after a more than sixty year history, they proposed to close the site in the second quarter of 2018 with the loss of all 205 jobs.”

“The company have indicated that the work currently carried out in Belfast would likely go to China, Mexico and the US. It’s clear to us that they are covering every base, appeasing Trump’s ‘America First’ policy, while also carrying out super-exploitation of workers in low-pay economies.”

“Normally, when faced with the closure of a plant or redundancies, one of the first things a union should do is demand to see the books. We didn’t have to do it in this case because we knew that there was a very healthy £30 million order book. Since the announcement, another £10 million in orders have come in. There is no economic or moral justification for what the company are attempting to do.”

“Following the announcement, we held a mass meeting of all workers on site. Notwithstanding the shock and concern, when Unite Regional Secretary Jackie Pollock put a motion to the floor to not accept the company’s ‘proposal’ and fight the closure, it was unanimously supported.”

“This plant cannot be allowed to close. This company have benefited from significant Invest NI grants and they shouldn’t be allowed to just walk away. By announcing their intention months in advance, the company hope that the thought of the remaining work or production bonuses will be enough to keep people compliant but, as workers and as a trade union movement, we cannot afford to be timid. We are fighting to save jobs and retain skills here in Northern Ireland because when they go they don’t get replaced”.

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