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Vote No to the Morrisons Pay Offer – Demand a Real Living Wage AND Premium Payments!

October 19, 2015 1 comment

Below a Morrisons USDAW rep gives their personal take on the current pay offer which USDAW is recommending. The Activist believes USDAW members in Morrisons should reject the pay offer and demand that the negotiating committee fight to retain premium payments. Given that companies are due to be forced by the government’s new ‘living wage’ to pay £7.20 an hour  to over 25s (rising to £9) it is entirely possible that over the next few years pay could again be restrained like over the past period with the pay rate hovering slightly above the minimum wage once more. This is why the Activist believes that USDAW should actively support and campaign for the TUC’s demand of a minimum wage for all of £10 an hour.

Retail has historically been low paid. So on the surface USDAW negotiating Morrison’s staff a wage increase from the basic rate of £6.83 to the dizzying heights of £8.20 taking them over the so called living wage, seems like a more than fair deal. The company are paying a good wage, the staff are happier, USDAW has negotiated a good deal for its members…

That is about as much coverage if any that you will hear about in mainstream media. The reality is a stark double edged sword. The new wage deal sees the end of the company’s Sunday premium currently paid at time and a half, quite ironic when USDAW ‘The Campaigning Union’ who organise predominately in the retail sector, are fighting the governments propositions to deregulate Sunday Trading, yet are trading away Morrison’s Sunday premium. Are they not in fact preparing for it becoming a normal working day? Or in fact accepting it already is one?

The Sunday premium isn’t where it ends. Overtime, late and early premiums are being scrapped. Forklift drivers and café cooks will see there supplements disappear. People who started with the company after December 2013 will only receive service rewards at 5 year intervals, although people who have worked for the company since before that date won’t be effected and still receive it every year (for people who started work prior to December 2013, they have to work 5 years before they can claim their first service reward). Finally but my no means the smallest in this wage offer, paid breaks will disappear taking the working week down to 36.5 hours (39 hours minus paid breaks).

The concerns of many rank and file USDAW reps within Morrison’s (who don’t negotiate pay, apart from a select committee who sit with the National Officer) is that Terms and Conditions are being traded away for a higher rate of pay, and given this governments appalling attacks on working tax credits and cuts to peoples benefits are the members realistically going to be any better off? Many USDAW members in Morrison’s are part time student workers, some of whom only work a Sunday and its difficult to see how they won’t be impacted financially. Further irony again since USDAW has always proudly informed its members how it campaigned to abolish youth rates in Tesco many years ago.

Of course for some people who don’t work late, early, or Sundays its understandable why they might be excited about the offer. But how long before they are expected to work late, early and on Sundays? Without premiums and with no real right to refuse. What you essentially have or are going to get is a divided workforce. With a natural high turnover of staff, and a general lack of understanding regarding trade unionism and solidarity anyway, retail is difficult to organise in. Now it will be even more difficult for reps to organise and very unlikely to attract non members within Morrison’s.

So what exactly are USDAW doing about all this? Well they recommend the members accept the company’s offer when casting there vote in the pay ballot.

But why? Many members are asking. Surely a trade union fights to strengthen their members terms and conditions? And doesn’t trade them away for the sake of a pay rise? It is not difficult to understand members or even non members apathy towards the union when you look deeply into what is being offered, and a perceived lack of any sort of a challenge from USDAW officials, all they seem to be doing is reminding reps to recruit new members. Perhaps USDAW needs to remind itself that recruitment is only part of organising, and they are unlikely to recruit new members or organise the ones they have if they keep trading away terms and conditions without so much as a fight, Who’s next Tesco? Sainsbury’s? Where’s your next new member coming from? Because you will more than likely hear the old question, what is the Union going to do for me? And with deals like this even the most dedicated reps and trade unionists are struggling to answer that one.

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