Socialist Worker

Barbour’s bosses face a solid strike

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2436

Barbour strikers and supporters on the march in South Shields

Barbour strikers and supporters on the march in South Shields (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Workers at Barbour Jackets in Gateshead have entered their second week of a four-week strike over changes to shift patterns.

The strike began on 5 January. Talks between the Unite union and management were continuing as Socialist Worker went to press.

Bosses want workers to agree to new shifts that require them to start work at 7am or finish at 11pm. 

The new contracts also remove unsocial hours payments and require workers to work some weekends.

Workers could be forced to pay for taxis due to lack of buses.

Those with children or other caring responsibilities would find it harder to manage. And workers could be unsafe leaving the factory late at night.

Strikers want bosses to introduce a day shift for those unable to arrive early or leave late.

But bosses say workers must sign the new contracts by 30 January or face the sack.

Striker Lorraine told Socialist Worker, “It seems like they just want to put people on the scrapheap.”

Up to 100 strikers marched on company headquarters in South Shields on Friday of last week.

Unison, CWU and FBU union members joined them.

Workers discussed extending picket lines at a mass meeting last week, and coordinating shifts to stop all deliveries to and from the factory.

They plan a day of action this Saturday in Gateshead and South Shields, where they will leaflet shops that stock Barbour jackets.

Unison member Simon Hall won applause after he promised support from the Unison Gateshead Local Government branch.

He said, “Public sector and private sector have got to stick together. It’s the solidarity that will win it.”

Unite shop steward Eric Bone told Socialist Worker that support for the strike had been “unbelievable”.

Lorraine said the new contracts are part of a bigger attack. “We’re not just striking for ourselves,” she explained. “We’re striking for future generations.”

Send messages of support to Eric Bone on 07952 865 611 or Gary Heaney on 07414 945 640

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