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Trade unionists will march into cyberspace today to create a virtual picket line as part of Britain’s longest running industrial dispute. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is protesting against the dismissal of 31 workers from the Critchley Label Technology, a label-printing factory at Crumlin, south Wales, in February 1997. With ingenious irony, the CWU hopes to encourage many of its 300,000 members from across the communications sector to clog the Critchley works’ own communication network with unwanted e-mails and faxes for 24 hours. Chris Proctor, from the CWU, said: "We have offered to meet them anywhere at anytime but they’ve never responded, so we’ve resorted to this to get our message across." Critchley Label Technology sees things slightly differently. It said: "The Union inspired demonstration is a sad misdirection of attention against a profitable and growing company in the industrial sector, which has a very low turnover of employees." Internet users across Europe turned off their computers only last week to protest to telecommunication companies about the price of local calls. Hackers have also long used direct action to cause disruption to targeted businesses and companies. The protest attempted today represents a more direct form of action, available to everybody via the Internet. ®

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