USDAW

Safe and equal

Government and employers are hoping to avoid further concessions on workers’ rights in the crisis: evidently their idea is that outpourings of patriotic rhetoric in the media and weekly clapping sessions will create a chorus of national unity that can drown out workers’ demands for equality and safety. The Safe and Equal campaign is trying to amplify those workers’ demands, by reporting on, lobbying around, and drawing together the many issues and fights arising among frontline workers. This week our supporters in the NHS have highlighted the duty of the Chief Nurse (and indeed all nursing...

Getting safe and equal

The Safe and Equal campaign ( safeandequal.org ), is continuing to gather steam. A journalist from Left Foot Forward , briefed by our campaigners, confronted Business Minister Alok Sharma on the key issue of our campaign: the fact that many workers only have access to paltry Statutory Sick Pay when self-isolating, a fact which renders many workplaces, and especially NHS sites, unsafe. Sharma responded by blustering about how much he respects carers, but refused to answer the question. As ever in this crisis, the Tories’ Blitz-spirit waffle about their love for NHS staff can’t mask their cold...

Social distancing for supermarket workers

Protective screens have been put up between till operators in most supermarkets, in order to enable them to open twice as many tills while ostensibly adhering to social distancing guidelines, but many staff feel like they just don’t go far enough. According to a senior USDAW official, the union approved their use in Tesco (where I work) without even seeing the screens, and upon seeing them doubts were raised about why they had been approved in the first place. The policy pushed by USDAW and adopted across many of the supermarket chains is that it is to remain only one checkout operator per...

Migrant workers need PPE too!

Migrant work­­ers are being forced to work without access to the same PPE (personal protective equipment) and paid leave for isolation and shielding that their British born colleagues are receiving in at least one Tesco distribution centre. Managers are refusing to take the time to explain the changes in policy and what they mean for the staff in a way that can be understood despite the language barrier, and telling them to work above their usual pick rates despite the fact monitoring has been suspended for the duration of pandemic. Whilst many reps are in self-isolation and the increased...

USDAW lets down Tesco members

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...

Tesco takes it out on workers

News that supermarket giant Tesco is to close forty-three of its UK stores will come as a devastating blow for the staff in the affected shops when the locations are revealed. The announcement that the retailer will not be proceeding with 49 other planned stores will also be badly received by communities who were hoping to get the construction and in-shop jobs to help them survive at a time when inflation is outstripping wage increases. Tesco is not doing badly by ordinary measures of success. The announcement came because the overall group’s business profits will “not exceed” £1.4 billion,...

Drivers break from USDAW

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. Members of USDAW at the Sainsbury's distribution centre in Sherburn-in-Elmet, Leeds (operated by Wincanton), have rebelled by defecting to another union - Unite. In less than...

Industrial news in brief

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. Unite officer Roger Maddison said: “There are more strings to this deal than a puppet show and the workers at BMW...

USDAW calls off Primark strike

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. The offer represents significant movement from Primark’s previous imposition of a two-year pay freeze, which workers voted by 88% to strike against. However, USDAW’s decision...

Unilever workers prepared to take further action

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: “The picket on the production side of the Unilever plant at Port Sunlight [Merseyside] was around 25 strong on the...

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.