Socialist Worker

Solid strikes at Heinz push bosses into talks on pay

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2233

Heinz workers on the picket line on 21 December (Pic: Geoff Brown)

Heinz workers on the picket line on 21 December (Pic: Geoff Brown)


Three solid 24-hour strikes at Heinz’s Wigan factory over pay during the holidays have forced management to offer new talks.

These were to take place on Tuesday of this week, and their outcome was not known as Socialist Worker went to press.

More than 1,000 Unite union members took part in the strikes beginning on Wednesday 15, Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 29 December.

Bosses have offered staff a pay “rise” of 3.3 percent this year, at a time when inflation is running at 4.7 percent.

Shareholders received a dividend of 9 percent this year.

Workers had voted by 90 percent for action, and a 500-strong mass meeting on Saturday 11 December voted unanimously to support the strike.

The strikes saw big picket lines across all shifts at the Kitt Green site.

The workers have received numerous messages of support from around the country, with trade unionists and MPs visiting the picket line to show their solidarity.

Unite’s new general secretary Len McCluskey joinedstrikers on Thursday of last week, along with other leading union officials.

Support

He told pickets, “I wanted to let you know that you are not alone. The national executive sends its full support for your action.

“You work for a blue chip company that makes massive profits year in and year out. And you’re the reason for those profits.

“This company is using the recession as an excuse to hold down wages.

“You’re asking for an increase in pay to improve your standards of living. Is that a crime?

“You have every right to do that and we need to make sure that this company listens to you.”

Ian Wright, the Unite deputy convenor at the site, told Socialist Worker, “The visit boosted people’s spirits, and there is a fantastic atmosphere on the picket lines.

“The strike means that the company is losing between one and two million cans a day.

“It is not just about the money, but the way we’re being treated. I hope the company sees sense.

“Some people want to escalate the dispute, but others, including myself, want to make sure it affects the company more than the members.”

More strikes are planned if the talks do not lead to a satisfactory resolution, with one set to begin at 1.50pm on Wednesday of this week.

Email messages of support to wrightian5@sky.com


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Article information

News
Tue 4 Jan 2011, 17:30 GMT
Issue No. 2233
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