THE FIRST strike for over 20 years hit the Caterpillar plant in Peterlee, County Durham, last week. Workers at the US multinational owned firm walked out for a day over a pay freeze and attacks on conditions.
The company has proposed major changes to workers' conditions and a three-year wage freeze. The company wants to be able to change workers start and finish times with next to no notice. Union convenor Kelvin Wood says, 'It means that we start work, and management turn up and say our finishing time has changed. They also want to decimate our sick pay scheme.'
There are 510 shop floor workers in the plant, which makes dumper trucks. They are members of AMICUS, the new union formed by the merger of the Caterpillar workers' AEEU and MSF. A ballot on action saw a 95 percent vote to strike. 'Today's strike was called to show management that we are serious about protecting our conditions and we are not going to be trampled on,' says Kelvin. The workers were considering their next move this week.