Car parts workers give up fight for compensation

Workers involved in one of Wales' longest industrial disputes have given up their fight for compensation.

Eighty six workers at the Friction Dynamics factory in Caernarfon won their case for wrongful dismissal at an employment tribunal in 2003.

They had been sacked after taking industrial action but the car parts company was put into administration months after the tribunal.

A union spokesman said workers were "accepting reality".

Staff had picketed the site for two and a half years after being sacked by the company's American owner, Craig Smith, in May 2001.

A fortnight later, Friction Dynamics was put into administration and a new company, Dynamex Friction, started production on the same site, with Mr Smith buying the majority of the shares in that company.

Workers' redundancy and sick pay was paid by the government but the Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWu), now part of Unite, continued a campaign for compensation from Mr Smith.

Tom Jones, regional organiser at the TGWu at the time, said: "It's not a matter of accepting defeat, it's a matter of accepting reality."

He criticised the UK government of the time for not changing the law to deal with such situations.

He said that ministers "had agreed with everything we said, but did nothing. That sticks in my craw, and I find that very difficult to accept."

A Department of Trade and Industry spokesman said: "The current insolvency regime enables appropriate action to be taken against company directors found guilty of any wrong doing.

"We cannot comment on individual cases such as Friction Dynamics but recognise that it is often distressing for employees and creditors when a company fails or becomes insolvent.

"That is why the National Insurance Fund ensures that employees and former employees receive at least some of any redundancy or other compensatory payments they are due."

Mr Smith, who now runs a company called Ferotec Friction based in Flintshire and in the USA, was unavailable for comment.

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