Belfast protests continue for sacked Nortel workers

Sacked Nortel workers and supporters continued their protests in Belfast today rallying for their redundancy packages.

Submitted by Choccy on August 28, 2009

Pickets of Nortel administrators continued in Belfast today outside the offices of Ernst & Young on Bedford Street. Sacked workers and supporters handed leaflets to shoppers and workers concerning their ongoing battle for parity with sacked colleagues in France, Germany and Spain who recieved their redundancy packegs which had been denied to the 87 sacked workers at the Monkstown Nortel plant, just outside Belfast.

The workers began to step up their protests in July, having been sacked in March at short notice and without consultation, breaking an agreement with Unite, the union many of the plant employees were members of. The workers have been picketing the Nortel plant (see picture) and the Belfast offices of Ernst & Young.

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.

In a leaflet to supporters, the workers were requesting that people contact both Nortel and Ernst & Young to complain about the way the sacked workers have been treated. In an echo of the Lindsay Oil Refinery protests, the Nortel workers are rallying under the banner "British Laws for British Workers". 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.

Victorious Belfast traffic wardens have been lending their support to the Nortel works' struggle, and have made a donation to their support fund. Organise! spoke to the workers at their protest and invited them to take part in a discussion at this weekend's Belfast Anarchist Bookfair alongside Visteon and NCP (now NSL) workers.