28th August 1993

Timex calls time on its Dundee factory

Watch-maker Timex had a factory in Dundee for almost 50 years. It closed in 1993 after six months of strikes against lay-offs, and calls for better pay.

The lay-offs were first announced on Christmas Eve 1992 and, at the end of the following month, more than 300 workers voted in favour of striking. They downed tools on 29 January, until 17 February, but after resuming work it became clear that management still intended to let a tenth of the workforce go. The strike resumed, the factory fired its workforce, and demonstrations turned violent.

Timex products on display at the McManus, Dundee
Timex products on display at the McManus, Dundee

Factory gate arrests

Almost 40 people were arrested during violent clashes outside the factory in late May, and two appeared in court charged with the attempted murder of a police officer. The Newcastle Journal of 18 May called it “Britain’s most acrimonious industrial dispute since the 1980s” as “the factory was besieged all morning by 3000 protesters in the biggest demonstration since the Timex dispute began with the sacking of the workforce and their replacement by fresh recruits bussed in daily.”

Management and unions held talks and management suggested a 27% pay cut. Workers rejected this and, in mid-June, union leaders said they’d been told by management that it was almost certain the factory would be closed by Christmas.

“Bully-boy tactics”

The Aberdeen Press and Journal of 15 June quoted SNP leader Alex Salmond, who called the closure threat “a typical case of bully-boy tactics from a company that is intent on cutting off its nose to spite its face… it is time to wipe the slate clean and start afresh. It is not too late for the Dundee plant to be saved.”

By mid-August, the factory was winding down. Just 100 workers were still employed there on 21 August and, on the 30th, The Mirror reported that “the embattled Timex factory finally closed yesterday – after eight months of bitter disputes. Bosses secretly timed the Dundee plant shutdown for Bank Holiday weekend while sacked workers were abroad – picketing the Timex factory in France. A spokesman for the firm said it deeply regretted leaving Dundee after 47 years.”



Other events that occured in August

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