Socialist Worker

Westex carpet strikers question what happened to ballot

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2691

Strikers have been solid throughout the dispute

Strikers have been solid throughout the dispute (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Strikers at Westex carpet in West Yorkshire are frustrated that they may be forced to end their fight for higher pay.

The Unite union members in Cleckheaton and Dewsbury could return to work next Monday after over 12 weeks on strike.

Some feel that Unite has weakened the dispute by not organising to renew their mandate for industrial action.

One Unite member told Socialist Worker he thought this amounted to “clear failings” by the union.

“That’s such a shame because we’ve still got such a solid group of strikers.”

Anti-union laws say a mandate for strikes runs for six months. After that it has to be refreshed in a new ballot.

Workers have legal protections such as being sacked for trade union related activity throughout this period.

Dismissal 

Another law says that during the first 12 weeks of a strike workers are protected from “selective dismissal”. Unions can also reballot to renew the 12-week protections.

Do workers need a new strike ballot after 12 weeks?
Do workers need a new strike ballot after 12 weeks?
  Read More

But the union ruled out reballoting at a meeting between a Unite regional legal officer and shop stewards.

At talks at the Acas conciliation service last week bosses put forward a slightly improved pay offer of 2.4 percent. The worker said, “I was told there would be no recommendation from the union and at the time fully expected that it would be rejected unanimously.”

But a letter attached to the ballot heavily implied that workers could be dismissed if they did not accept the deal.

The worker said, “It should have had the other option—to reject the deal, go back to work and keep up the dispute.

“I was told the union would send another letter, but some had already filled in the ballot while fearing dismissal.

“It’s a sad day for solidarity.”


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