Socialist Worker

Heinz strikes meanz a much better pay deal

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2235

Workers at the Heinz factory in Wigan voted to accept an improved pay offer from management this week.

Unite union members voted by 805 to accept the deal to 258 to reject.

Their planned strike on Wednesday of this week has now been called off.

Bosses were forced to improve the pay deal after four powerful days of strikes that brought the St Kitts site to a grinding halt in December and January.

Staff were angry at the original 3.3 percent offer with strings that they received, and also rejected a 3.5 percent offer for this year and 3.4 percent next year—with strings.

Heinz bosses then offered 3.9 percent this year and 3.9 percent next year together with consolidation of an additional pay supplement into basic wages from October 2011. The strings had also been dropped.

This was enough for people to accept. But the size of the no vote shows the increased confidence and determination to take on management that the strength of the strikes has nurtured among the workforce.

Many people thought more could have been won with further action.

Nevertheless, it is clear that sustained and solid action has forced a powerful multinational company to back down.

Heinz bosses had claimed that they were “baffled” by the strikes earlier in this dispute and that workers had a “great deal”.

Claim

It also proves that workers can win better pay, even when companies claim that the economic circumstances are difficult, and that strong unions can win for their members in the private as well as public sector.

Ian Wright, the Unite deputy convenor at the plant, told Socialist Worker, “The dispute has given us a lot of strength. Union membership has gone up and people are really proud of the union.

“The company will now think twice about forcing us to take action.

“We still have a number of issues on site—the strike was not just about pay but the way that we’re being treated. The Acas conciliation service has offered to host talks between us and management about them.

“I have been really heartened by the support we’ve received from papers such as Socialist Worker and other unions.

“Shop stewards at Heinz plan to join the anti-cuts demonstration in Wigan this Saturday.”


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News
Tue 18 Jan 2011, 18:01 GMT
Issue No. 2235
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