Stop and Shop workers strike in the US

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Stop and Shop workers on strike

On the 11 April, workers in Stop and Shop across New England, which has around 31,000 employees, walked out to take long awaited strike action over a series of attacks by the company.

Iain Dalton, Usdaw Broad Left Chair

The attacks come in the form of the latest round of union contract (pay, terms and conditions) negotiations, where the company had attempted to cap shopfloor wages, hike healthcare costs by up to 500%, replace the current pension with an inferior 401k, remove a week’s paid holiday, eliminate time and a half payments on sundays and institute a wage cap for employees. All this whilst parent company Ahold Delhaize earned $2billion in profits in 2018!

As pointed out in the video message by Usdaw President Amy Murphy (see here – https://www.facebook.com/1549827718591114/posts/2253451768228702/), some of these attacks will sound familiar to Usdaw members as they are similar to what workers in many of the UK’s retail companies have faced in the era of austerity, our employers trying to improve their profits by squeezing our standard of living and working conditions.

Once again, the fantastic response by UFCW members turning out en masse outside their stores shows, like with Tesco and Lloyds Pharmacy strikes in Ireland and the Lidl strike in Belgium that retail workers can and will strike to defend and improve their conditions if a lead is given. As in other dispute, a key part of this has been building confidence of members to strike, by engaging with customers about the issues behind the dispute, including rallies outside stores.

However, as seen in online comments on union social media by Stop and Shop workers, there clearly has been some frustration by workers over how long it has taken from the strike ballot to start the action (around a month). Throughout the dispute the UFCW should be calling mass meetings of its members across the five branches involved to discuss out the strategy of how to win the strike. Electing a strike committee from such meetings, which could regularly report back on the progress of the dispute, could also help draw in members energised by the strike to play a more active role in winning the dispute and building the union going forward.

Wider support will be crucial to sustaining the strike to force the company to seriously negotiate. Organising mass rallies outside stores, but also hardship funds will help support workers in maintaining the strike and boost morale. Usdaw’s Executive Council to should contact the UFCW offering whatever help and support it can to ensure the strike defeats Stop and Shop management’s attacks.

Please sign the petition in support of their demands here – http://www.ufcw.org/supportstopandshopworkers
Like, share and send messages of support on their facebook page here – https://www.facebook.com/supportstopandshopworkers/

You can read updates about the dispute including an interview with a Stop and Shop worker from the Socialist Alternative website here – https://www.socialistalternative.org

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FOUR MEMBERS OF THE ‘USDAW GROUP OF MPS’ QUIT LABOUR IN ANTI-CORBYN SPLIT – CORBYN MUST LAUNCH STRUGGLE TO KICK OUT BLAIRITES AND FIGHT FOR SOCIALIST POLICIES

February 20, 2019 Leave a comment

Since this article was originally written an 8th Labour MP, Joan Ryan, has quit to join the ‘Independent Group’. She is yet another member of the Usdaw group of MPs.

Many Usdaw members will have been unsurprised to see the long-awaited split of some Blairite MPs away from the Labour Party finally manifest itself as the Independent Group in parliament of 7 MPs.

These MPs have been firmly hostile to the leadership of Labour by Jeremy Corbyn, and his radical manifesto in 2017, that put forward many of the demands that trade unionists have been making for including a £10 an hour minimum wage, renationalisation of the railways, a mass council house building programme and more.

Corbyn’s repeated victories have been followed with a strengthening of the left on Usdaw’s EC and the beginnings of a more combative policy to fight for our members interests.

Instead these Blairites wish to take us back to the past with neoliberal policies and support for austerity, as expressed in their statement of their views

“Britain works best as a diverse, mixed social market economy, in which well-regulated private enterprise can reward aspiration and drive economic progress and where government has the responsibility to ensure the sound stewardship of taxpayers’ money and a stable, fair and balanced economy”

If these MPs had remained within the Labour Party they would have continued to fight for such positions and sabotage a Corbyn-led government from implementing its programme.

Therefore it was entirely correct for those on the left within Usdaw to have argued at the 2017 ADM for support for mandatory reselection so that such MPs could have been challenged by the members rather than being able to leave on their own terms.

The seven are far from the only Labour MPs who share their views, with the majority of Blairite MPs still being of the opinion that it is better to attack Corbyn from within the Labour Party. And while they remain, Usdaw’s socialist president Amy Murphy has been recently expelled from Labour!

Usdaw members will be alarmed that three of the new Independent Group are members of Usdaw’s parliamentary group, Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey, the latter being the former Secretary of the group.

Usdaw should immediately withdraw any financial or other support from these MPs. But it also raises questions about why the Usdaw group of MPs includes people who are so clearly hostile to policies passed by our ADM.

Corbyn should withdraw the whip from any MP who helps to prop up the Tories.

These events make even clearer that what is needed to consolidate the victory of Corbyn in two leadership elections is the refounding of the Labour Party, restoring a socialist clause in its constitution and the collective rights of trade unions and opening it’s doors to all groups who wish to join

Usdaw Activist 79

January 28, 2019 Leave a comment

Includes articles on John Lewis, Bank Holidays, Irish Tesco Strike and John Hannett’s retirement

Solidarity with Striking Tesco Workers in Ireland

December 21, 2018 Leave a comment

Irish Tesco workers were back out on strike in December, against the effective derecognition of their trade union. Mandate members in Sligo have so far taken two days of strike action, with another two to follow on the 21st and 22nd December, being joined by Tesco workers in Carrick-on-Shannon on the 22nd.

70 workers joined the first day of the strike in Sligo, a process that evolved from a collective greivance lodged in April 2017. After Tesco management repeatedly ignored this, eventually Mandate balloted workers with 97% voting for strike action on an 85% turnout!
This dispute, like the previous strike wave in Tesco in 2017, is a resounding rejection of the idea that retail workers will not respond to calls for strike action. Clearly workers in Sligo have shown their determination not to be walked over by management.

The Activist sends its full support to Tesco workers taking strike action in Sligo and Carrick-on-Shannon.

Categories: Updates Tags: , ,

Usdaw Activist 78

November 5, 2018 Leave a comment

Articles on retail job losses and closures, £10 an hour minimum wage campaign, and Usdaw at the TUC 2018

Reject anti-semitism smears, defend union policy & democracy

August 14, 2018 Leave a comment

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Usdaw members will have been very disappointed to see that in his first major intervention on the Labour Party since becoming Usdaw General Secretary, Paddy Lillis has emulated Usdaw’s outgoing General Secretary John Hannett in joining in the attacks of the Blairites against Jeremy Corbyn around anti-semitism.

When Hannett stepped down as General Secretary this year, many Usdaw members wanted to see a different approach, most visibly demonstrated by the election of Socialist Party member Amy Murphy as Usdaw’s president defeating Hannett’s preferred candidate.

Yet on this issue, Lillis has waded in with a big splash in the media attempting to throw Usdaw’s weight behind the smears against Corbyn, with no consultation with the union’s ruling Executive Council. Members will worry that this is the first step of a move to run the union in a manner similarly to Hannett, bypassing it’s democratic structures to aid the right wing of the Labour Party.

In this case, demanding the implementation of all the guidance to accompany the IHRA definition of anti-semitism, there are widespread concerns that this seeks to not just tackle anti-semitism but block legitimate criticism of the policies and actions of the Israeli government. This would then be used to trap the left because the main motive is to use the issue to build the campaign to bring down Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership in league with the Blairites, the Tories and the capitalist Establishment.

But it is doubling concerning, given that this would undermine Usdaw’s policy around the question of Israel/Palestine adopted at Usdaw’s 2016 Annual Delegate Meeting (ADM) in solidarity with the Palestinian people against the repressive actions of the Israeli government.

Usdaw members will be expecting that their EC rebukes the intervention of Lillis in this fashion and re-commits the union to implementing policies as democratically decided by our ADM.

Solidarity with Lloyd’s Pharmacy strikers in Ireland

ruth coppinger lloyds pharmacy strike

Solidarity TD and Socialist Party member Ruth Coppinger visiting Mandate picket line at Lloyds Pharmacy in her Dublin West constituency

Last Friday, around 200 workers at 29 Lloyd’s Pharmacy shops across Ireland took part in an hour’s strike action, the first strike action as part of an ongoing campaign to win union recognition and improvements in pay and conditions.

Their union, Mandate, now has a membership density of 30% across the company, with members in 2/3rds of stores in Ireland. Despite this management have refused to have serious negotiations with the union and have instead resorted to sending threatening letters to staff involved in the strikes.

The key points which Mandate members are seeking improvements around are

  • A fair pay increase
  • The introduction of incremental pay scales across grades
  • Improvements in annual leave entitlements and public holiday premiums
  • Greater security of working hours (eliminating zero-hour contracts)
  • The introduction of a sick pay scheme

Messages of support can be sent via visiting their campaign website – https://lloydsworkers.com/contact/