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.
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.
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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