By Brian Claffey and Jeannie Robinson
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2790

Chep UK strikers get ready for more action, while offer on horizon at Wincanton

Two important strikes over pay and the cost of living
Issue 2790
Chep UK strikers and supporters from Wigan trades council and Wigan Unison cheer together on the picket line

Solidarity from trade unionists in Wigan boosted strikers (Picture: Wigan Trades Council)

Strikers at Chep UK in Manchester are re-balloting for another 12 weeks of strikes—and remain confident that they can win.

The members of the Unite union are fighting over pay.

Although bosses have brought in scabs, they can’t keep up with the workload as pallets continue to pile up. At the beginning of the strike there were 15,000 pallets needing minor repairs. Now there are 120,000.

The strikers know their action is cutting into the company’s profits. Morale is boosted by the support strikers receive from different union branches such as Rolls Royce Barnoldswick who donated a new brazier.

The side of the brazier reads, “My boss is a Chep’skate”. A fair description, considering the announcement of £150 million in profits last year and the bosses’ refusal to give workers a decent pay rise.

The workers are also being hit by the rising cost of living with their energy bills increasing and inflation cutting into their wages. Some say they’ve even had to visit food banks. Strikers are sending letters to Chep UK customers such as Heineken to increase the pressure.

Workers’ action is key. Picketing Heineken would broaden the possibilities of the strike. To do this, strikers must be willing to bypass their union and act independently of the officials.

Solidarity from workplaces is also key. The workers have already visited striking workers at Oldham bus depot, cleaners at Piccadilly train station and Longsight depot.

And they supported the successful campaign to reinstate bus driver Tracey Scholes.

Offer on the horizon at Wincanton B&Q—but is it enough for strikers?

After five weeks of all-out strikes at the Wincanton B&Q depot in Worksop, the bosses have blinked and have agreed to talks with the Unite union on Tuesday.

Members of the Unite union are fighting over pay. Senior stewards believe the action has really started to bite. They are optimistic they will agree a settlement which will deliver on their demands, and which they can put to members.

Some strikers have said they won’t go back for anything less than 7 percent—the current rate of inflation. The strikers were in a buoyant mood on Friday when around 150 workers protested outside a jobs fair organised by their local Tory MP Brendan Clark Smith.

There were solidarity speeches and lively chanting for two hours.

Clark Smith had opposed their strike and suggested they could solve their financial problems by leaving the union and saving money.

They also were angry that he told them to “upskill”. As many of them told Socialist Worker, they already do skilled work.

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