USDAW lets down Tesco members

Submitted by Matthew on 11 February, 2015 - 11:31 Author: Bill Holmes

Tesco workers in stores facing closure can take little solace or hope from the efforts of their biggest union.

USDAW, which represents retail workers and has a sweetheart deal with the retailer, has said nothing to challenge Tesco's plans to close 43 stores around the UK.

Although in its statements it has promised to keep “job losses to a minimum” and see as many workers as possible redeployed, it has stopped far short of condemning the closures or redundancies.

It is important to remember why Tesco has taken this step.

It is not because it has huge losses mounting up, nor even a one-off big tax penalty to get off its books.

No, it simply made not as much profit as it said it would.

Put another way, its greedy bosses are worried they won't get their performance-based bonus this year and have taken drastic action.

Solidarity does not advocate a profit-based economy in any case, but even under capitalism's rules this is extreme.

As, supposedly, a body representing members of the working class, USDAW should be joining its members in opposing any job cuts.

But instead it is bowing to its own — and not its members’ — interests.

If it speaks out too loudly against Tesco it risks the retail giant cutting its sweetheart deal, forcing it to fight to recruit members (and a share of their pay to fund its bureaucracy) and possibly compete with other unions, fight to get recognition nationally or in each store, and potentially lose a large chunk of its membership.

Of course a union should also pick its battles wisely — but that would be a tactical choice for workers in a long tiring struggle, not a giving-up on its core principles.