Socialist Worker

Outsourcing: after Gate Gourmet, four new disputes

Issue No. 1968

On the picket line at Initial

On the picket line at Initial

Initial Laundry

Workers at Initial Laundry in Bradford voted to end their strikes this week after a new offer from the company.

The 70 workers held two one-day strikes in their battle for better pay. The company is part of the Rentokil group, the same one that was preparing to take over cleaning at British Bakeries (see report below).

Many of the laundry workers earn between £5 and £5.30 per hour before the strike.

They will now get a 2.75 percent rise (the same as offered at the beginning), but the company will pay workers for the two strike days.

A GMB member told Socialist Worker, “We have won ourselves some respect through this action although we would have liked to have won more.

“It has brought people together and shown the company that we cannot be treated with contempt anymore.

“We have shown we can strike solidly, and people now have a much stronger feeling for the union. I hope we can add to the recruitment that has already happened during the dispute.”

Vauxhall Motors

Hundreds of workers at car maker Vauxhall’s plants at Ellesmere Port and Toddington are voting on strikes after the company announced it was axing its fleet drivers to cut costs.

The workers have already voted for action in an internal consultative ballot. If the strike goes ahead it could halt deliveries of parts, and cars would not be transported off the production lines.

John Fetherston, T&G representative at the plant, said, “This is about people fighting for their jobs.

“Unless the company changes the plans we are preparing to take strike action. The drivers are an essential part of the plant and if they walk out it will hit it hard very quickly.”

A worker at the Ellesmere Port plant told Socialist Worker, “This is the thin end of the wedge — they’ll outsource the dispatch drivers first but who is next?

“People are pissed off with the way management are treating them. We need to stand together so they don’t sell us out bit by bit.”

Bakery workers

Possible strike action at Birmingham’s biggest bakery has been postponed after a retreat by the company over outsourcing.

Bfawu bakers’ union members at the giant British Bakeries factory, in Garretts Green, had planned to begin a strike vote this week over a scheme to hand over dozens of hygiene jobs to a contractor.

The move to offload cleaning work to Rentokil Initial could have cut pay by £40 a week and impacted on hygiene standards across the plant.

The bakery, which has a 400-strong workforce, provides millions of loaves and other baked products, such as hot cross buns, each year.

Its products includes names such as Hovis and Mother’s Pride. The outsourcing scheme, run by parent firm RHM Group, was a pilot for its major bakeries up and down the country.

Union leaders warned that workers at the company’s other sites were looking at the Birmingham situation and could move to a ballot for industrial action.

This was enough for the company to say it would look at the scheme again and take it off the table for the moment.

Canary Wharf cleaners

Cleaners from the T&G union held a lobby in Canary Wharf on Tuesday of this week to protest at cleaning contactor Lancaster’s refusal to negotiate with the union over pay and conditions.

Lancaster Office Cleaning Company is one of the biggest cleaning companies in London. It pays its cleaners just £6 an hour, contrasting sharply with the pay of its directors, one of whom receives a £271,229 salary. The company made £3.3 million profit last financial year.

More than 500 low paid cleaners at Canary Wharf have joined the T&G and are demanding a minimum wage of £6.60 an hour, sick pay, 20 days annual holiday and a pension scheme.

The T&G is arguing for a level playing field across the contract companies who work at Canary Wharf.

Jack Dromey, T&G deputy general secretary, said, “The T&G’s campaign for justice will continue until every cleaner at Canary Wharf is paid a living wage.”

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Sat 17 Sep 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1968
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