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Sacked workers demonstrate against Electra Lil-lets in Birmingham

transmitter | 15.07.2007 16:47 | Workers' Movements | Birmingham

Sacked workers, their families and fellow trade unionists held a demonstration on Thursday, 12 July, outside the Boots store in High Street, Birmingham city centre, to protest over reduced pensions following the closure of the Lil-Lets tampon-making plant in Alum Rock last June. The protest was the second in a series of protests outside Lil-Lets major customers, organised by the UK's largest union, Unite. The first one took place outside Tesco and Boots at the Beggars Bush on the Princess Alice Retail Park, Birmingham, on 7 July. Seven other protests across the Midlands are planned in July and August, while women across the Midlands are being urged to boycott Lil-Lets products.

In a press release earlier this month, Unite condemned Electra Lil-Lets for the "treatment of its loyal workforce and the desertion of the UK in order to exploit labour and make huge profits abroad." Some 46 employees of the Birmingham-based company had been lead to believe that they would receive their consent pensions from the company following the plant closure. But Unite (Amicus section) has since learnt that the company have opted to reduce their pensions considerably, in many cases by 30%, in another example of a private equity business exploiting British workers for their own gain.

Lil-Lets, which is owned by private equity firm Electra, is one of Britain's largest producers of women's hygiene products. About six months ago, the company announced it was closing its UK operations and moving them to Taiwan, Poland and South Africa. The decision was made despite the company's making excellent profits in the UK. Consequently, the entire 150-strong workforce at the Birmingham plant, originally named Southalls, were made redundant. There are 330 plus people who have retired or are semi-retired, which includes the 46 who are receiving or entitled to receive pension. The pension scheme is in deficit and the company has agreed a schedule of contributions with the trustees.

Unite has now launched a campaign to highlight that Electra Lil-lets is deserting its loyal workforce. The campaign will focus on demonstrations outside Lil-Lets major customers, such as Boots, Asda and Tesco. A list of announced protests can be found here.