Socialist Worker

LETTERS - Co-op supermarket fails to cooperate with our rights

Issue No. 2624

Is the co-op launching an attack on workers rights?

Is the co-op launching an attack on workers' rights? (Pic: The Co-op Group/Flickr)

The Co-op seems to have joined the race to the bottom on workers’ rights.

Someone I know, who has worked at the same Co-op shop for over a decade, recently received a letter from the company.

Workers have been asked to be more flexible in the hours they are prepared to work.

The workers I know offered to work between 8am and 6pm, seven days a week.

Bosses have told them this is not enough. The shop requires staff to be available to work at any time, up until 11pm, seven days a week.

There are no regular shifts and staff work different hours every week at short notice.

Obviously this has a detrimental effect on their sleep patterns, family arrangements and work-life balance.

The letter told workers that they need to be more “flexible” or they will be sacked and offered re?employment on new contracts.

The workers are Usdaw members, but the union appears to be reluctant to take up the issue.

What Co-op is doing is part of a wider pattern.

In another example, workers at a small local firm have been issued with new contracts. Bosses say this is “to bring the contracts up to date with the law”.

The new contacts state where employees’ normal place of work is, but say, “You may be required to work anywhere in the UK”.

And it adds, “You may be requested to work abroad for no more than one month”.

Some 90 percent of the workers have never worked anywhere else but at the main site. And none of them have ever been asked to work abroad.

The company has no other premises or interests.

Despite the fact that the clauses are meaningless, workers have been told that including them is now standard practice.

Workers believe that bosses are taking the piss and have refused to sign the contracts until the clauses are removed.

Dave Ramsden, Bradford

Labour delegates stood with Palestine

The undisputed highlight of Labour conference was the open display of international solidarity for the Palestinians.

Delegate Colin Monehen’s impassioned speech sent a message to the world.

It said that we do not accept the Israeli government’s atrocities against the Palestinian people. As the motion was being put forward, every delegate, every affiliate and every visitor was on their feet waving a Palestinian flag.

Chants of “Free, free Palestine” broke out around the hall. The message to them is clear—we have not forgotten you, our voices will not be silenced until you are free.

Pauline Wheat-Bowen, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Huddersfield

You will put people off a brilliant filmmaker

Agnes Varda is a socialist filmmaker. In 1968 she lived in the US and made a film supporting the Black Panther party.

And One Sings, the Other Doesn’t, a film she wrote and directed in 1976, supports a woman’s right to choose

Socialist Worker newspaper gave a positive review of her latest film Faces, Places (Socialist Worker, 28 August).

It pointed out that “Agnes Varda blazed a trail for women in cinema”.

But the title of the review was negative, saying “marred by racism?”.

I agree that the film, which is about people in French small towns, should have tried to include more black people.

But to label it racist will put people off seeing a brilliant, experimental woman film maker.

Lynne Hunter, Newcastle

SW is wrong on Leonard speech

Socialist Worker’s assessment of Scottish party leader Richard Leonard’s speech at Labour conference is wrong (Socialist Worker, 28 September).

It panders to the sectarian division of Scotland along nationalist/unionist lines.

Leonard’s message was that it doesn’t help unite the working class to split us along those lines.

His speech didn’t go far enough by arguing for a socialist federation in Britain to resolve the democratic deficit.

Leonard is the first socialist to lead from the frontline of the Scottish Parliament since 2007.

The majority of the revolutionary left is still operating like during the independence referendum of 2014.

In practice, that means a political line of “Yes to nationalism, no to class unity and socialism”.

Mark Porciani, Edinburgh

Back Scots referendum

To say that a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government will deny a second Scottish independence referendum is electoral suicide for Scottish Labour.

Labour really should be saying that it will grant an independence vote if people ask for it and that they would respect the decision.

What Labour shouldn’t be doing is lining up with the Tories yet again.

Duncan Brown, Glasgow

Bonus points for Labour

My East Asian heritage welcomes shadow Labour chancellor John McDonnell’s comments about workers receiving bonuses and sitting on company boards.

East Asian workers have received annual bonuses of one to two months pay for the past 40 years.

He also lauded John Lewis as a model for “employee share ownership”.

My trade union background notes that John Lewis partners will receive zero bonus this year.

Laurence Wong, South London

All Ugandans must be free

Charlie Kimber is right when he says that Uganda’s struggle must continue (Socialist Worker, 28 August).

President Yoweri Museveni is clinging to power by rigging elections and arresting and beating opponents.

But young people who struggle for change are looking to Bobi Wine.

Wine was banned from performing in Britain in 2014 because of homophobic lyrics.

I hope he learns in the heat of the struggle that freedom for Ugandans means freedom for all including LGBT+ people.

Ivor Richard, Wolverhampton

Diminishing real fascism

Headlines such as “Robinson is a fascist threat” diminish the impact of real fascists.

Tommy Robinson is someone with right wing views, but not a Nazi.

Geoff Bridges, On Facebook

Campbell is a hypocrite

Alistair Campbell said right wing Brexiteer Arron Banks was a “horrible human being with no sense of history and next to no humanity.”

Blair’s former spin doctor has no sense of irony.

This is the man responsible for destroying Iraq and murdering 1 million people.

Julia Ryder, Worcestershire

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