Socialist Worker

Carpet workers say pile on the pressure

Issue No. 2689

Workers have been striking since 20 November

Workers have been striking since 20 November (Pic: Martin Jones)


The resolve of Westex carpet workers in West Yorkshire had not weakened as they began the tenth week of an all-out strike on Monday.

Unite union members at the carpet factory in Cleckheaton walked out on 20 November after bosses threatened a pay freeze.

The company had tabled a pay offer of 2.25 percent that would have resulted in the workers’ bonus pay being incorporated into their hourly rate.

Kamran, a Unite union rep, told Socialist Worker, “We’re still going strong and we’re getting more courage.

“We’ve got lots of support.”

Donations

Dave, another Unite rep, added, “The morale is good, we’re getting support from people and donations to the strike fund.

“We had Huddersfield trades council and the Unite council branch come down with donations this morning.”

Talks at the Acas conciliation service ended with bosses making no concessions.

Bosses plead poverty. But the firm had pre-tax profits of £5.4 million in 2018-19 and £5.16 million in 2017-18. Workers aren’t benefiting. Kamran said, “Our basic pay is less than the minimum wage—the rest depends on bonuses and piece work.”

Westex bosses are hoping to ride out the strike.

They were advertising job vacancies at the beginning of the industrial action and have shipped in ­materials ­normally produced on site from outside. Kamran explained, “They are taking in yarn from other factories.”

Dave said, “Unite has talked about broadening the action, maybe targeting the places that are supplying yarn to these companies. This would build pressure on bosses.” A day of solidarity—with trade unionists and campaigners from across Yorkshire—could also help to intensify the strike’s impact.

A mass rally or picket of workers and supporters could halt deliveries of yarn from going into the factory and shut down production.

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