Socialist Worker

Barbour strikers win concessions on shifts

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2437

Barbour strikers

Barbour strikers (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Workers at Barbour Jackets in Gateshead voted to end their strike on Monday of last week after winning significant concessions from management.

The Unite union members had just entered the second week of a four-week strike over changes to shift patterns.

Bosses had said workers would be sacked unless they signed up to shifts that could have started as early as 6.30am, or finish as late as 11pm.

But the solid strike forced Barbour bosses to back down.

Crucially, the deal saves the jobs of workers who were unable to start early or finish late, and so could not have signed the new contracts.

Guarantees such as job shares mean that they will be able to work hours better suited to them.

Unite shop steward Eric Bone told Socialist Worker, “Extra consideration has been given to people who can’t make the shifts. We’ve managed to save vulnerable people’s jobs.”

The shifts themselves have also been revised. The new shifts will now start at 7.30am and end at 10.30pm. 

Minibus

And the company will pay for a minibus to take workers from the site to a nearby Metro station at the end of the late shift, dropping off along the way. This is important as the warehouse is on a remote industrial estate with poor transport links.

The strikers did not win the reinstatement of unsocial hours payments, which the new contract had removed. 

But the deal does include an improved pay offer.

And the new shift patterns will still make life harder. Some of the strikers are unhappy with the deal as it still leaves them in a worse position than they were before.

But the deal is a real improvement on what bosses wanted. Action gets results. 

The strikers’ determination to stay out until 30 January—the deadline for signing the contracts—forced bosses to back down on many issues.

And a large and militant protest at Barbour headquarters earlier this month helped pile on the pressure. 

Strikers also planned to strengthen picket lines and hold days of action in town centres.

Eric explained that wide support from different groups and trade unions had also helped the strikers win.

He said, “I want to thank Socialist Worker for the support you’ve given us.

“If it wasn’t for all the support we’ve had from people we couldn’t have achieved this.”


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Tue 20 Jan 2015, 17:29 GMT
Issue No. 2437
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