Workers at Hovis (Premier Foods) bakery in Wigan have voted to strike against the replacement of permanent workers with lower paid agency workers on zero-hours contracts.
Workers will strike from 28 August to 4 September and further strikes are scheduled for 11-18 September and 25 September to 2 October.
Workers who are organised by the BFAWU has already taken cuts in pay and working hours to avoid further redundancies. They voted 75% for strikes following abortive talks.
The union says pay rates for some workers have fallen from around £13 per hour to £8.60 an hour.
The Office of National Statistics estimates 250,000 workers are on zero-hours contracts (where workers are “on call”, taking whatever work they can).
However projections by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development suggest the figure could be as high as a million. And now research by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation among 600 employers showed that 27 per cent used zero-hours contracts.
McDonalds in Britain employs 90% of its staff on these contracts. Around 19% of workers in the hotels and restaurants sectors are on these contracts.
The recession, the natural fear by workers of losing their jobs, and a long-term lack of combativity from the unions has combined to ensure bosses use these kind of “flexible working” practices aggressively.
Zero-hour contracts, unscheduled overtime, last minute shift changes are there to ensure bosses stay more profitable and make workers’ lives a misery.
It is very good news that some workforces and unions are beginning to fight back.