Members of the Unite union at Premier Foods in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, voted last Friday to end their strike action and return to work.
Workers were on strike over pay, rejecting the paltry 74p per week on offer. They were also protesting at management’s unilateral changes to conditions including the removal of a 30-minute formal work break.
Mark Plumb, the Unite convenor, told Socialist Worker that three mass meetings covering all shifts voted to go back to work despite not winning on their key demand of a backdated pay increase.
“The company strategy was to starve us back to work. Although we haven’t won on the pay increase from 2009, we have won inflation plus half a percent increase from 1 July 2010. And we have a commitment to sit down to discuss the bullying management culture and our conditions.”
It is a shame that workers on some of the lowest pay and operating under such difficult conditions were not given more support by the leadership of the Unite union.
Workers on the Wisbech site were starting to make links with workers at other Premier Food sites. They voted overwhelmingly to strike the first time round, and again when they were reballoted after talks failed.
With greater backing from the national union the possibility of the strike being spread and workers not being starved back to work was real.
“We are determined to ensure that agreements on changes to conditions and management bullying are implemented”, said Mark Plumb.
If they aren’t, workers have to demand a reballot and that Unite fully back their struggle and spread the struggle to other Premier Food sites.