Workers at Chep UK in Pontefract struck for five days this week over pay, sackings and the general attitude of management.
More than 120 staff from the pallet and container company took part in the action.
Bill Chard, regional organiser for the workers’ GMB union, said, “The management are taking a hardline stance.
“They say they can’t afford more than a 1.5 percent pay rise despite they fact that they make millions and, in real terms, the offer would mean a pay cut. The shop stewards met with management last week and the company simply refused to discuss their attacks on the bonuses.”
Chep is part of the Brambles group of firms which recently announced profits of $1.46 billion.
The workers are angry about the use of agency labour.
It was the fact they were being used to undermine the existing workforce that was the issue, not the fact they were Polish.
Bill said, “A couple of months ago all the workers who had been at Chep for less than 12 months were called in and dismissed.
“Only eight days later they were replaced by Polish agency workers.
“We do not care where the workers are from, it’s the principle of the sackings that is unfair.
“The company has made some moves over the sackings saying they will take on some full-time staff, but they have not said how many.
“They have simply said that those workers who were sacked could apply for the jobs along with anyone else.”
Chep in Pontefract is part of a large multinational which employs more than 7,500 workers in 38 countries.
It can easily afford to pay a decent rise and to reinstate all those it has sacked.
As the action continues, strikers will need solidarity from all levels of their GMB union and from local workers.
The workers have already struck for three days at the beginning of the month and have been carrying out a overtime ban.
Bill told Socialist Worker, “The strike is solid and, regardless of what they say, a five day strike hits the company in the pocket.
“The workers are meeting on Saturday to discuss further action.”
Send donations to Chep UK strike fund, GMB, Grove Hall, 60 College Grove Road, Wakefield, WF1 3RN. Messages of support can be e-mailed to the convenor [email protected]