Evonik workers on strike Evonik workers on strike, Photo: Counterfire

As part of a growing pattern, local activists are coming out to support an important strike in Manchester

From 6am on Saturday morning, community activists, many of whom were behind the Manchester bus strike blockades, assembled at Evonik in Clayton, Manchester to block the main gates of the factory in solidarity with workers on strike there.

The dispute revolves around pay negotiations. Evonik, a highly profitable company, has offered a paltry 1.5% pay rise, but with many strings attached, including committing the workers to almost a week’s worth of extra overtime per month! Evonik says the contracts they are on require ‘reasonable overtime’. The fact that the company thinks this amount is reasonable probably says a lot about their general attitude to workers. 

Needless to say, the workers strongly disagree and as such, decided to take strike action. Today was the third day this week and further strikes are planned throughout November. 

The group of community activists comes from a broad range of organisations across Manchester and their history of coordinating solidarity action in aid of local strikes represents the best of the left coming together for a common cause.

It’s particularly encouraging to see an XR contingent involved, an organisation that has been criticised for the lack of class politics in the past. It’s doubtless not applicable only to the Manchester contingent of XR, but the activists here definitely do have class consciousness, and recognise the importance of backing workers in struggle. Several had come from the Ryebank Fields camp where they are engaged in an occupation to protect green space from development.

Not long after the activists turned up today, security closed the main gates, which pretty much did the activists’ work for them. The workers seemed appreciative of the action and pictures were taken together as messages of solidarity were exchanged.

This kind of direct action in support of strikes allows supporters to pile extra pressure on the bosses of companies. It should be replicated around the country as a way to smash dodgy anti-trade-union restrictions.

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