Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers
A retail distribution driver spoke to us about recent moves by workers to break from the retail union USDAW and join Unite. AWL has criticised USDAW's role as a collaborationist and sell-out union in the retail sector. However, we do not have a formal policy of advocating or supporting breakaways from majority/recognised unions, and relate to particular cases on an individual basis. We publish this report for information.
Workers at BMW’s Oxford plant have voted by 97% to oppose management’s latest pay offer.
The consultative ballot, which was conducted by the Unite union, polled 2,000 employees.
The pay deal included a basic increase of 2.21%, of which nearly 2% was contingent on working extra hours. Since the ballot, BMW bosses have offered further talks. While “welcoming” the talks, Unite has said it will press on with plans to move to a full ballot for industrial action to win a better deal.
A strike by shop-floor staff at Northern Irish branches of discount clothing retailer Primark on Friday 16 March was called off after their union USDAW received “an eleventh-hour offer” from Primark bosses to resolve a pay dispute.
The offer would increase the hourly rate of pay for shop-floor workers at Primark from the current £6.84 an hour to £7.14 an hour from April this year. USDAW will now put the offer to ballot.
Workers at food and cleaning products manufacturer Unilever have begun an 11-day programme of rolling strike action at sites across the UK in an attempt to defeat bosses’ plans to scrap their final-salary pension schemes. It is the joint strategy of the three unions involved: Unite, USDAW and the GMB.
The plan is a bold move from workers at a company that had never seen strike action until December 2011.
Bob Sutton from Merseyside AWL reports on his visit to a local picket line:
Unilever workers struck for a day on Friday 9 December as part of their battle to defend their pensions.
Members of the Unite, GMB and USDAW unions took action, with the strike being reported solid in most Unilever facilities.
Unite said that no engineer had gone to work at Unilever’s Burton site, and USDAW reported the strike 100% solid at the Port Sunlight research and development facility.
A strike by thousands of workers at Unilever (which manufactures well-known food products including Marmite and other household goods) could be the first major set-piece pensions battle in the private sector, after Unite, GMB and USDAW all returned massive majorities for strike action.
There were some definite positives to the 16 May “March for Jobs” organised by Unite in central Birmingham.
The turnout — up to 8,000 people, mostly rank-and-file workers — was bigger than many marchers were expecting. Unite seeming to have done a decent job of mobilising in workplaces. There were contingents from the Longbridge plant in Birmingham, as well as from steelworkers in Teesside, Visteon workers and Latin American cleaners from London. Other unions, most notably Unison, were also visibly present.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT: The decision by members of Unison’s Local Government National Joint Council to agree to binding arbitration effectively brings this year’s pay dispute to an end. It is a failure for the union and the leftists who lead the sector and will be a bitter disappointment to the members who supported action but wanted a better deal.
Even in 2005, Tony Blair’s Labour must have seemed to most voters at least marginally less illiberal and less rigidly attached to inequality than the Tory party of the old Thatcher minister Michael Howard.
But what about now? Younger people, looking at the parties afresh, have nothing presented to them which makes Labour seem even demagogically more on the side of the “common people” than the Tories. Sometimes, indeed, the opposite.
Terminal 5 strikes
TGWU, GMB and UCATT members building Heathrow’s Terminal 5 struck on Friday 20 and Monday 23 January in their battle over bonuses with contractor Laing O’Rourke — despite claims in the bosses’ press that the action was being called off following a settlement. The strikers organised picket lines at half a dozen strategic locations in the environs of the airport.
By Gerry Bates
From 23 January members of the shop and distribution workers' union
USDAW will be receiving ballot papers for the election of our union
executive and president.
This is one of the most important trade union elections in years.
Tesco is not a popular company. Not popular with its rivals, who envy its dominance of the grocery trade and are leading a campaign to slow down its expansion and stop its below-cost pricing of certain goods.
Not popular with small farmers, who feel ripped off by the company. Not popular with people who have lost Post Offices and other small shops as Tesco’s supermarket building programme transforms Britain’s high streets.
It is sometimes not even popular with its customers, when they find the promise of cheap food does not hold good beyond a small number of items.
At the session on partnership Mick Duncan of the T&G described how British bosses today feel they can get away with super-exploitation and this makes the quietism of trade unions today — which goes under the heading of “partnership” so dangerous. USDAW members from Tesco described their experience of “partnership” — it is not good… The Tesco “partnership” deal has been in place for eight years. At first 70 reps were involved in negotiating the wage deal. Then, after those reps refused to acquiesce to a pay deal, the negotiating team shrunk to four.
On Friday 12 November 2004, eight unions closed their political fund review ballots - ASLEF, BECTU, CATU, CWU, FBU, GMB, TSSA and USDAW. All achieved overwhelming yes votes, with an average 77% affirmative vote.
This brings the total number of unions to achieve massive yes votes, in this the third round of review ballots, to 16.
ASLEF - 80% yes on 49% turnout
BECTU - 75% yes on 29% turnout
CATU - 67% yes on 19% turnout
CWU - 73% yes on 33% turnout
FBU - 74% yes on 42% turnout
GMB - 88% yes on 19% turnout
TSSA - 78% yes on 26% turnout
Giving away workers' rights
By Mark Sandell
The bosses have kicked off the holiday season with an offensive against sick workers. The bosses' union the CBI have released a report claiming that 15% of the sick days taken by workers are not authentic. The fact that the number of sick days hase been falling for five years and only rose this year was ignored. Also ignored was the shocking fact that British workers work the longest hours in western Europe.
Check out USDAW. A rule change proposed [through his lackeys] [by SIR Bill Connor] that this year's annual delegate meeting give control of branch funds to central office transferring a further 12.5 per cent to central office.