By Jeannie Robinson
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2784

B&Q strikers say 4 percent is not enough

Nearly 500 workers in the Unite union are ­continuing strikes in Worksop.
Issue 2784
20 strikers and supporters with large banner saying "Wincanton B&Q workers demand fair pay". Strikers are smiling.

Solid on the Wincanton picket line in Worksop

Nearly 500 workers in the Unite union are ­continuing strikes and other action at the Wincanton B&Q depot in Worksop. They plan to strike for a week, then work to rule for a week, then repeat this pattern until 20 February.

Patrick McGrath, the Unite union rep at the site, told Socialist Worker, “We are in this for the long haul. Kingfisher, the parent company, is set to make £950 million this year. We want a fair pay rise.

“No one should be ­working full time and still be in poverty or visiting food banks. We turned down a 4 percent offer and are demanding a 6 percent rise or the RPI inflation rate—which is going up all the time.” Wincanton distributes the B&Q materials.

The strike is very solid ­following an 88 percent vote for action. Every day there are 18 hours of picketing in three shifts. At the shift change up to 120 people have turned up to picket. A night shift, on different pay levels, is continuing to work and some agency staff are going in.

But very little is being moved and deliveries into the warehouse have almost stopped because the site is running out of storage.

Every town has a B&Q so Unite Community members are working to bring this dispute to stores in the run up to Christmas. Chesterfield trade council and Unite Community took solidarity to the picket line last week. Strikes are set to begin again on Sunday.

During the next round of strikes, pickets plan to visit B&Q head office in Southampton, and the Wiltshire Wincanton HQ.

The company also tried to victimise the union rep by suddenly giving him notice of redundancy. They offered him £38,000 to go. But as Pat said, “They realised their mistake when I reminded them it is against the law to offer inducements to trade union representatives.”

  • Tesco warehouse and HGV drivers in Belfast and Antrim, Northern Ireland and Didcot and Doncaster in England are set to strike before Christmas. Tesco offered workers a 4 percent pay rise, that’s well below inflation.

The Northern Ireland ­workers plan all-out strikes from next Thursday. Workers in Didcot and Doncaster are taking 48-hour stoppages also from next Thursday and will escalate to a five-day stoppage from Monday 20 December.

  • Following a strike, Stagecoach bus workers in South Yorkshire have returned to work for one week. They will take action again for another week starting this weekend.

Pickets were constantly very angry at the way management tried to make the current offer look much better than it really is.

George Arthur

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