GMB presses ahead with disruption at NCP

As the storm around UK private equity escalates, the workers’ union is organising a fifth strike at 3i-backed car park operator, while it cedes the strategic direction of its campaign to the TUC, a pan union group.

The GMB union said today it would continue its campaign against Permira and 3i, as it planned a fifth day’s strike at NCP, a UK car park operator owned by 3i, but it was handing over the strategic initiative to the Trade Union Congress.

A spokeswoman for the union said: “We’ll carry on beating up private equity owners who as a result of their actions hurt our members. Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, will direct the strategic campaign”.

Barber said in a speech earlier this week that buyout firms give the impression of being little more than amoral asset-strippers after a quick buck. He called them “casino capitalists enjoying huge personal windfalls from deals at the same time as they gamble with other people’s futures. Gordon Gekko minus the scruples”.

The TUC will shortly be producing a briefing on private equity for its network of over 1,000 pension-fund trustees – who help manage assets worth more than £300 billion. It will encourage them to look at the issues before they support investment in private equity.

In March the TUC will meet trade-union leaders from 40 countries in Paris to discuss how to make the industry more accountable. It will feed its concerns directly to German Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of June’s G8 summit.

The GMB is planning another day of action by its 70 members on Saturday to secure the right of GMB to negotiate their pay and conditions and “end bullying and harassment by their employer NCP in Enfield.”

After a demonstration yesterday in Victoria NCP a group of strikers met MPs at the House of Commons, including Labour leadership contender John McDonnell, who gave support to their campaign.

The group then delivered a 5,000 resident petition to the Lord Mayor at a meeting of Enfield Council.

This follows reports that 3i is in exclusive negotiations to sell NCP to Australia’s Macquarie Bank, in a deal that would produce a profit of 45 percent or £245 million in just 18 months.

Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary, said “We have the obscenity of the multi-millionaire private equity elite ready to rake off £245 million from NCP as their mainly migrant workforce in Enfield are forced to lose pay by going on strike to get their union the right to negotiate their pay and conditions and to end bullying and harassment of their managers.”

He said the length of 3i’s investment in NCP made a mockery of the firm’s claim it was driven by a strong sense of values, forming close partnerships with the companies it invests in.

“It is just window dressing to cover asset stripping,” he said.