Pricecheck workers celebrate recognition
By Martin Smith
"PRICECHECK IS the start of the offensive in the battle for union recognition." That is how TGWU general workers' trade union officer Brian Revell described the union's recent recognition deal signed with Pricecheck supermarkets. Revell was speaking at the Pricecheck workers' victory celebration in London on Thursday of last week. The celebration began with an inspiring film about the Pricecheck workers' year-long fight for recognition. It showed the low paid and predominantly Asian workforce standing up to ruthless millionaire boss Manzoor Choudhary-and beating him.
Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn congratulated the Pricecheck workers. He also spoke of his disappointment with the government's failure to promote workers' interests. He told the meeting, "I didn't campaign for a minimum wage of �3.70 an hour. I support the TGWU campaign for �5 an hour." Pricecheck workers' leader Iftikhar Ul-Haq was last to speak. He thanked the Socialist Workers Party for all the help it gave during their year-long campaign. He pledged, "Pricecheck workers will go anywhere to support workers fighting for union recognition. We want to see every low paid worker in the country in a union."
Iftikhar got a huge cheer from the audience. A number of people spoke from the floor. The impact of the Pricecheck workers' victory was clear to see. Speakers included a representative from the local Camden trades council, a post office worker and other Pricecheck workers.
A UNISON member from north London's Camden council sent a message of support from his branch, while a MSF technical union member told the meeting about the campaign to unionise his own workplace.
- To arrange a Pricecheck speaker, or if your union branch would like to show the film on the fight for union recognition at Pricecheck, contact 020 7278 7801.
ONE OF those to speak at the Pricecheck workers' celebration was TGWU regional official Ken Fuller. Fuller said, "Mr Choudhary claimed that Pricecheck was one big happy family. The workers showed how false that claim was. "But there is one big happy family. It's the trade union movement." Fuller listed the workplaces the TGWU union is targeting for recruitment drives:
- Waterstones bookshops in central London.
- Psion computers.
- Brake Brothers food distributors.
- Rosti's in north west London.
- Flexible Lamps in Harlow, Essex.
- Two low budget supermarket chains, and hotels and restaurants in central London.
Inspired to get unionised
THE FIGHT for union recognition has inspired other low paid workers in central London to begin their own campaigns. A supermarket worker spoke to Socialist Worker about the impact the Pricecheck dispute had on his workplace:
"I WORK for a supermarket chain that has dozens of shops in London. The owner refuses to recognise the union. He told us if he got a sniff that anyone was involved with the union he would sack them on the spot. Last summer the Pricecheck workers started holding lunchtime pickets outside the shops demanding union recognition. I secretly met one of the Pricecheck workers. He told me how I could join the union and how to start building. I contacted the union and joined on the spot. I took four other union forms away with me. I was very careful not to let management know what I was doing. Soon everyone in my shop signed up. Whenever I was sent to another branch to cover for a sick colleague I would talk to the workers about joining the union. Nearly 40 of us are now in the union. We've still got a long way to go. But I'm confident we can win."
Know the rules
THE LABOUR Research Department is organising a one day conference "Winning recognition-using the new law", on Saturday 8 April at the TUC in central London. The cost is �40-�50. People who want to attend should get sponsorship from their trade union branch or trades council.
- For more details phone the LRD on 020 7902 9812.