The Jobless Crisis: Sacked staff in protest at Timex plant

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THE TIMEX Corporation in Dundee was last night the scene of a mass demonstration by workers dismissed by the American multi-national this week after a two-week strike at the plant, writes James Cusick.

In the largest single mass sacking by any UK employer since the News International Wapping dispute of 1986, Timex on Wednesday carried out its threat to sack 300 assembly workers after they refused to agree changes.

Yesterday 12 newly recruited workers arrived at the Dundee factory to begin replacing those sacked. The company says that since it issued the 300 dismissal notices it has been inundated with applications from unemployed people in the Scottish east coast city. The unemployment level in Dundee published yesterday is 11.6 per cent, marginally above the overall Scottish average.

The dispute began shortly after Christmas when Timex said it intended to lay off half the 500 workforce. Although this was accepted by union representatives, they wanted a rota of lay-offs, rather than a block of workers taking the brunt of the cutbacks.

The AEEU, which represents the majority of the strikers, said Timex had demanded a wage freeze, cuts in pension and saving schemes, reductions in canteen benefits, a longer working week from 37 to 40 hours, and changes in shift patterns.

Timex said the dismissals were regrettable but it was 'committed to building a growing and profitable business and securing long-term employment at the plant'.