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Defend Jobs at Morrisons

Today, Wednesday 10th April, Morrisons have announced 689 job losses across its 490 stores as a result of introducing new technology into cash offices. Whilst there is supposed to be a four week consultation over these jobs, as an Usdaw spokesperson quoted by the BBC admitted “The union is hopeful that all staff who want to remain with the company will be found alternative roles.” ie – that the jobs had been cut and workers would have to take up other existing vacancies.

The Activist is not opposed to the introduction of new technology devised to make the lives of retail workers more easy and their tasks for efficient. However, we have to question why, in supermarkets that are already chronically understaffed, are jobs being phased out instead of using that person’s now freed up time to relieve pressures elsewhere. The same could be said about the introduction of self-scan checkouts into all supermarkets.

Analysts have commented that Morrisons profits dropped by 7% last year, but they still made £879m in profit last year, or £7,000 per employee. As someone who earned less than £10000 a year working 35 hours a week for Morrisons, then the company kept not much under half of the value I created each year through my work. And this is before mentioning the tens of thousands of part-time employees who work much fewer hours each week. Morrisons like many other big retail companies is making vast swathes of cash at our expense, the 165 jobs lots last year at Morrisons Head Office in Bradford were so that they could transfer them to a company based in low-wage India.

The reality is that Morrisons and other retail companies could afford to concede a living wage, full-time jobs for those who want them and decent staffing levels in stores if enough pressure was put on them by Usdaw. This should be part of an organised campaign across retail, with rallies for a living wage organised in major towns and cities across the UK with other union representing low paid workers.

If companies don’t concede this then we should campaign for them to be brought into public ownership under democratic workers control, so instead of along big retailers to fill to coffers of the UK’s rich capitalist elite. Taken alongside measures such as nationalising the banks (and not only their losses as the bank bailouts did) we can decide how we invest their wealth to benefit hard pressed workers rather than swelling the rich’s profits.

An ex-Morrisons shop steward

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