Socialist Worker

Unilever: first ever strike over pensions

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2282

Over 2,000 private sector workers in three trade unions were set to walk out on Friday of this week at multinational company Unilever.

This is the first national strike ever in the firm’s history, and will hit 13 sites around England and Wales.

Workers are fighting an attack on pensions that will cost them up to 40 percent of their retirement income.

Unite union members voted by an overwhelming 85 percent for strikes and 92 percent for action short of a strike, on a 67 percent turnout.

Workers in the GMB and Usdaw unions have also voted to join the strike.

Bill Hodgson is a Unite rep at the research and development site in Port Sunlight, Merseyside.

He told Socialist Worker, “The mood is quite solid and there’s a lot of anger.

“Only three years ago, the pension scheme was closed to new members, supposedly to make it affordable.

Rocketing

“A lot of our members see this as the first step in a broader attack on pensions.”

Bill added that Unilever says it wants to move towards a defined contribution scheme that would hit all workers.

Unilever produces dozens of familiar brands, including PG Tips, Dove, Persil, Flora and Surf. “Share prices are rocketing,” said Unite rep Jane Stewart.

“The pension changes are just about how much money they can make at the expense of workers.”

In the dispute over public sector pensions, the government made great effort to pit private and public sector workers against each other.

But the Unilever dispute shows that private sector workers are fighting back too.

“We’ve already had lots of messages of solidarity from public sector workers,” said Bill. “It’s great to show there’s solidarity between the public and private sector.”

A delegation from trade unions representing Unilever workers in other European countries will fly over to Merseyside to show their solidarity on the picket lines.


List of Unilever sites

Members of the Unite, GMB and Usdaw unions will be striking at 13 sites around England and Wales this Friday. They would appreciate your solidarity at the picket lines.

  1. NORWICH FACTORY
    Colman's of Norwich
    Carrow
    Norwich
    NR1 2DD
  2. BURTON FACTORY
    Wellington Road
    Burton-on-Trent
    Staffordshire
    DE14 2AB
  3. GLOUCESTER FACTORY
    Corinium Avenue
    Barnwood
    Gloucester
    GL4 3BW
  4. TRAFFORD PARK FACTORY
    Trafford Park Road
    Trafford Park
    Manchester
    M17 1NH
  5. PURFLEET FACTORY
    London Road
    Purfleet
    Essex
    RM19 1SD
  6. PORT SUNLIGHT R&D
    Quarry Road East
    Bebington
    Wirral, Merseyside
    CH63 3JW
  7. PORT SUNLIGHT FACTORY
    P.O.Box 69
    Port Sunlight
    Wirral
    Merseyside
    CH62 4ZD
  8. WARRINGTON FACTORY
    2 Liverpool Road
    Warrington
    Cheshire
    WA5 1AA
  9. CRUMLIN FACTORY
    Croespenmaen Industrial Estate
    Crumlin
    Gwent
    NP11 3AG
  10. COLWORTH R&D
    Colworth Science Park
    Sharnbrook
    Bedford
    MK44 1LQ
  11. UNILEVER EUROPE IT
    Unity House
    St David's Park
    Ewloe
    Deeside
  12. LEEDS FACTORY
    (USDAW the majority, Unite has around 80 members)
    Coal Road
    Seacroft
    Leeds
    LS14 2AR

    Send messages of solidarity to william.hodgson@unilever.com and ian.swift@unilever.com


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Article information

News
Tue 6 Dec 2011, 17:55 GMT
Issue No. 2282
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