Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
IWW/CIO tactics!  I LOVE it!!

The truth is: management can't fire everyone on the factory floor all at the same time.  What they can (will?) do is selective firing of the 'agitators' and a slow replacement of the 'radicals' in the workforce as their contracts end.  Management has already demonstrated they are scumbags.  Expect them to keep pushing.

I've never been in a union, but I've been involved in something similiar at my old work.  

I worked in a call center that dealt with consumer medical devices.  They kept pressuring us to cut down our talk time (time on the phone with customers) and after call work (the amount of time spent filling forms on the computer for a call).  We were supposed to have an average talk time of 8 minutes, and and after call work of 2 minutes at the begining. We dealt with sick people, if we made mistakes in the technical assistance rendered people could die. It was not an easy job.  

Then the number of calls nearly tripled in a period of a few months, and people started dropping like flies (due to the nature of the condition our products treated, I hope this is only a commentary on labor relations, but I think that management's incompetence may have gotten "the best" of a few clients along the way as well.)  So management decided that rather than hire more agents, or do anything in recognition that we were being asked to do more than three times as much work with the same staff decided to cut our talk time to 7 minutes and our after call work to 1 minute.  Agents couldn't keep up, and the company went through and started firing people for poor metrics.

So we retaliated the only way we could.   We were "empowered" to send free product to customers, and we did.  An agent might handle 40-50 calls in an 8 hour shift, and on maybe 1/3rd of those sending out free product (at $50-100 per call) was an option.  Normally, we'd send out maybe 3-4 things of free product in a day. Well when they started cutting down our talk time and aftercall work, we started sending out free product on every call we could.

We had just under 200 agents, and we went from sending out less than a million USD in free product in a month to more than 10 million USD in a month after they started the firing.  Needless to say they caught on (after the second month), and suddenly they announced that call metrics being upped to the 10 minutes talk time, and 5 minutes after call work.  

Problem was that by this time, they'd lost 30-40 workers out of 200, and it took them 2 months to bring a class of 24 onto the floor.  Near the end, we were actively talking during lunchs (I went outside to eat) about forming a union.  If we had the company would have been fucked.  Because in the medical device industry you have to have a call center like the one I worked in to sell your product in the US.  If we had formed a union, and went on strike, they would have not been able to sell their products in the US (this was a large, slightly evil, Swiss firm, though our division was German) and would have been losing hundreds millions of dollars each week we were out.  

I think that call centers in the pharmaceutical industry are ripe for unionization for that reason.  The company thinks that they can fuck over the people that make it legal to sell their products.  It's a gigantic bottleneck, that could be used to unionize the sector.  And if the union doing the deed insisted on wage increases while keeping product prices steady (like Walter Reuther and the American UAW did in the 1947 strike against GM) they could win hundreds of thousands of new members, and change the way that the pharma/medical device sector works.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 02:52:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've seen this happen in the computer industry. fortunately never on a site where I was working, but I have seen places like it and the standard of support is abysmal and ultimately counter-productive. But you can't tell accountants and management gurus nothing.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 03:11:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good for you.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri Dec 28th, 2007 at 01:20:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Occasional Series