Workers threatened with the sack at the Peugeot plant in Coventry voted at mass meetings yesterday morning for strike action to defend their jobs and to keep the Ryton plant open.
They declared their determination to fight back against company plans to shut the plant with a direct loss of 2,300 car making jobs and a threat to the future of 6,000 spin-off jobs in the Midlands car economy.
Trade unions at the Peugeot plants in France pledged to take action in support of their Coventry brothers and sisters.
British trade union officials told reporters after the Coventry mass meetings that they are considering industrial action, it may not be taken straight away but they intended to fight the company’s decision.
Officials added that they are ‘demanding immediate talks with Peugeot to review the closure threat’.
A regular meeting between management and the Ryton unions had already been scheduled for today.
Transport and General Workers Union chief negotiator at Peugeot, Coventry, Des Quinn said: ‘Union members at Peugeot are very angry indeed at the threat to skilled jobs in Ryton, and we will fight it with every means necessary.
‘Peugeot’s decision has been sprung on us after management spent many months planning in secret for the closure of our plant.
‘The company hopes it can get away with a trouble-free closure of the Ryton plant.
‘They’ve got that wrong, and we are demanding that they now enter into talks with us about the future of the plant.
‘Those are the talks they should have begun many months ago, instead of their secret closure planning.
‘We have had strong messages of support from our colleagues in the French unions, who are prepared to join with us in the struggle to keep Ryton open.
‘They recognise that a management like Peugeot must be shown its legal and moral obligations to treat all its workers fairly. Our jobs are worth fighting for, and that fight starts now.’
TGWU General Secretary, Tony Woodley, called the closure a ‘disgrace’ and ‘corporate greed at workers’ expense’.
Derek Simpson, general secretary of Amicus, said: ‘It is inconceivable that workers in France would be laid off on this scale.
‘Weak UK labour laws are allowing British workers to be sacrificed at the expense of a flexible labour market.’
All Trades Unions Alliance national secretary Dave Wiltshire told News Line yesterday: ‘Workers will support the call for strike action. But the one day actions the union leaders are thinking of are not enough.
‘What is required is the physical prevention of the closure. Workers must occupy the plant to stop the company stripping its assets.
‘They must demand the TGWU, Amicus and TUC leaders call out the whole of the motor industry. This must be the start of a massive campaign of strike action to nationalise the car industry.’