Wincanton B&Q workers in Worksop have won a 10.75 percent pay deal after striking since November last year.
The 475 Unite union members returned to work last Sunday after a long and determined battle. Pickets continued until the workers’ vote on the offer was revealed last Friday.
The one-year deal includes a basic 6.75 percent backdated pay rise to July for the upcoming year. Additional bolt-ons include back pay for the period, including while on strike, and a £250 payment for working through the pandemic.
In total these improvements raise the increase for this year to 10.75 percent. Bosses will also guarantee that holidays meant for last year are carried over to this year.
The solid action by workers for three months shows the impact walkouts can have. And an all-out strike was far better than partial action.
Pay deals in the private sector are currently averaging 3 percent while RPI inflation is set to continue to soar above the current 7.5 percent.
B&Q originally offered 4 percent and wanted the strikers to settle on a two‑year deal. Now the strikers have won a huge increase because of their fightback.
But the package of extra payments will mean that in upcoming negotiations in May for the next annual pay increase, due for July, the starting point for a rise will be 6.75 percent. Some 366 strikers voted in the ballot with 78 percent accepting it.
That means around 82 workers voted to reject the offer. So there was an appetite among the strikers to win more than the deal that’s now been made. Workers rightly can see prices are rising and that there will need to be a further battle to defend and improve living standards.
But Wincanton strikers have shown they are willing to take long action to win better pay. They should be ready to do the same and win should B&Q bosses make another measly pay offer.
And their fight shows the victories workers can achieve when they fight together.
In a sign of the potential for unions to win big pay rises, the Unite union has announced a series of important deals.
And remember these were won without a strike, raising the issue of what could be won with serious action.
Workers at Luton airport have agreed a pay increase of 9.2 percent. The deal is worth £1,800 to each of the 600 workers.
Meanwhile workers at BMW’s Mini production plant in Cowley, Oxford, who were being balloted over strikes, have settled a three-year pay deal. Overall Unite says it’s worth 26.1 percent.
In the first year the deal is backdated to 1 January and workers will receive a 5.5 percent increase and a lump sum payment of £1,500 split across the year.
In the second and third years workers will receive an increase in line with the RPI inflation rate or 2.5 percent, depending on which is highest. They will also receive a £1,000 payment in April and if RPI is above three percent in June a further £500 in July.
And strikes due to start last week at Heathrow Airport have been called off by the 400 workers employed by Menzies Aviation. Ground handling workers will receive a 7 percent rise backdated to 1 January and a pay review in May.
Joint Venture refuelling workers will receive a payment of £3,000 and a six percent pay increase backdated to 1 January.
British Airways refuelling workers will also receive a payment of £3,000 and a 2022 pay review in October. Labour shortages and supply chain fears have put some bosses on the back foot. Struggle can ram that home.
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