The JJB dispute is threatening to erupt again after the firm sacked a leading union representative.
Workers in the GMB union are balloting for strike action after management sacked GMB union rep Chris Riley.
Last month JJB workers at the Wigan warehouse struck and won over pay. The back to work agreement that ended the strike on 20 November included a no victimisation clause.
So Chris, who had been suspended in the run-up to the strikes after allegedly making comments to non-union staff, expected to be reinstated. He was told all charges would be dropped.
But despite the firm’s assurances, Chris was then informed that he was being dismissed from his job.
Chris told Socialist Worker, “I asked people a while ago to support JJB strikers in their fight for better pay and conditions and the response we got was overwhelming.
“I am now calling on you again to help us fight to save our union recognition at JJB.
“The company have reneged on previous agreements and have sacked me.
“We are treating this as a direct attack on the union – to undermine us after the victory we achieved.
“Under the back to work agreement, it was agreed that all grievances would be dropped and I was given a personal assurance by chief executive Tom Knight that I would be back in work pending a yes vote.
“The company and Dave ‘Mr Wigan’ Whelan have totally reneged on this. This could not be further from their pledge to improve industrial relations!”
Workers are unhappy that Chris Riley has been singled out while non-union members who made similar comments have not faced any disciplinary action.
GMB regional officer Sandra Blight said, “We believe it is a vindictive and vile move. Unless people honour signed agreements made in good faith, there is no basis for stable industrial relations.
“For the second time in as many months, low paid GMB members may be forced to strike to get agreements honoured. The Wigan depot will stop again unless Chris Riley is re-instated.”
The union is asking for financial support for the strike fund and for demonstrations at JJB Sports shops and outside football grounds, where Wigan FC plays.
Messages of support for the campaign can be emailed to [email protected]
Donations (payable to GMB) can be sent to Graham Wells, GMB branch secretary, 80 St Georges Road, Bolton, Lancashire BL1 2DD.