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Archive for April, 2019

Stop and Shop workers strike in the US

stopandshop

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