Protests continued today in support of 87 workers sacked with no redundancies at the Nortel plant outside Belfast last March.
Workers and protestors gathered outside the Bedford Street offices of Nortel's administrators, Ernst & Young, in Belfast. Members of Organise! joined the sacked workers as they unfurled banners and handed information lealfets to shoppers and workers in central Belfast.
The mood of the protest was upbeat, with foghorns booming, but there anger at the way the have been treated by their former Nortel bosses was palpable. Nortel, is a multinational telecommunications equipment manufacturer and has its international headquarters in Toronto, Canada. In January 2009, the company filed for protection from creditors in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, in order to restructure its financial obligations and debt. Ernst & Young are now effectively running Nortel's UK operation.
On 30 March, bosses at the Monkstown plant, just north of Belfast, assembled at short notice and sacked 87 employees, with no redundancies. Workers at the protest claim that Nortel violated agreements with the union Unite, of which many of the workforce were members. Today's protestors described how there had been no consultation, and no notice concerning the job cuts. The workers have stated that Nortel broke employment laws by not giving them the statutory 90 days consultation before making redundancies. Administrators Ernst & Young, claim that Nortel has acted within the law. Nortel executives received $43 million in bonuses according to the Nortel protestors.
Sacked former Nortel workers in France, Spain, and Germany had received their redundacy packages, and the Nortel workers in Belfast today are fighting for theirs. They aim to continue their protests at both Ernst & Young in Belfast, and at the Nortel plant outside Belfast. The sacked UK workers have set up an information site about their fight against Nortel
There is another picket outside Ernst & Young planned for next Thursday, 13 August from 1-3pm.