STRIKES BY workers at Sainsbury's distribution depot in Haydock, near St Helens, have forced the supermarket giant to make a new pay offer.
The workers escalated their action two weeks ago by striking for 24 hours on the Wednesday and Friday, which brought production to a halt. The new offer is £7.60 an hour (up from a previous offer of £7.55 an hour) and a new promise to review the workers' pay a further two times before April next year.
The workers are demanding that their pay is raised to £8 an hour, a rate similar to other workers in distribution centres. The Usdaw stewards have refused to recommend that the workers accept the new offer. One of them told Socialist Worker, "They say there is no more money, yet already they have managed to increase their offer."
All 750 in the Haydock depot will vote on the deal at a workplace ballot this week.
Sainsbury's is desperate for the workers to accept the deal. It even resorted last week to threats that it might close down Haydock. This is a dirty blackmailing tactic from a company that boasts about "partnership".
But there are big obstacles to the company shutting the plant. Sainsbury's has invested huge sums in Haydock depot, which was only built seven years ago. In 2001 it boasted that it had doubled the size of the depot.
Further action would hit the company hard. It has already experienced what impact a shutdown in the production in Haydock would have.
One worker reported that last week, the first full week they were working after the last strike, "the amount of work went through the roof. Where we were shifting 130,000 cases, we had 180,000 through the door."
The Haydock workers have already rattled their bosses. A no vote in this week's ballot over pay would reinforce that message.