Socialist Worker

DHL strike—‘We won’t be treated like something on the bottom of a shoe’

by Isabel Ringrose
Issue No. 2741

Picketing has turned away some lorries

Picketing has turned away some lorries (Pic: Unite North West)


DHL workers in Liverpool are continuing their strikes for better pay and an end to a bullying management culture.

A 48-hour walkout by Unite union members at the end of January has been followed by action that began on Tuesday this week. Strikes continue until this weekend and then start again on Monday and Tuesday.

Strikes were suspended before Christmas to allow for talks between Unite and DHL, but the company failed to make a "significantly improved offer."

Unite regional officer Kenny Rowe told Socialist Worker, “We’re still picketing, and the lads have stayed strong.”

But DHL is now refusing to re-enter talks with Unite.

“It’s part of the culture, they’re putting their fingers in their ears and don’t want to listen," Rowe said.

“But we’ll keep going. We will be putting forward more strike days.”

Meanwhile the union says that the bullying by DHL managers has continued.

Management

“We’ve had an issue with one of our members who says they were assaulted by management. Yet the manager was straight back to work last night,” Rowe explained.

“This is what we’re out on strike for. The manager is back in, but our member remains suspended.

“There are managers in there that influence the people under them to treat people in this way. The general manager is making the decisions, thinking everything he does is okay.

“People on the picket line want a bit of justice. They want to go to work and not be treated like something on the bottom of a shoe. DHL think we’ll give up—that’s not the case.”

Picket lines outside the site are ensuring a constant presence and have been met with support.

Rowe said, “Lots of lorries turned round yesterday. They decided they wouldn’t cross the picket line.”

But DHL is employing sub-contractors to do some work.

The companies that are supplying workers to DHL to cover the work are also taking advantage of the situation.

“We have had to threaten legal action to a number of firms for breaking the strike,” Rowe explained.

“DHL is short of workers so it’s directly employing scab labour. It does show we’re having an effect—it must be costing them a fortune.”

Lots of lorries turned round yesterday. They decided they wouldn’t cross the picket line.

Workers in Liverpool carry out the delivery contract for Burton Biscuits. This includes the Wagon Wheel and Jammie Dodger brands, and AB World Foods.

Rowe said, "Sales are going through the roof, and these big British companies think ‘look at all these profits, aren’t we doing well.’

“But our members created that profit. They’ve been in those warehouses in close proximity. It’s really difficult to socially distance especially in a workplace environment such as warehousing.

“Then this is the treatment they’re given.”

But the 120-strong workforce isn't giving up.

“If these issues don’t go away, we’ll keep balloting. We’ve got lots of funding coming in from people who want to support and help sustain the strike," Rowe said.

“DHL think this is it. But the strike can continue.

“They underestimate the resolution of our members to ballot again. You can’t be a trade unionist and allow your members to be treated like this.”

There are issues with management actions at several other DHL sites such as Dartford, Halewood and Solihull. They should all be fighting together to increase the pressure on the bosses.


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