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Usdaw Activist 71

September 6, 2017 Leave a comment

Articles include an Argos distribution strike supported by Usdaw members and the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) lobby of the TUC Congress in September.

At the NSSN lobby of the TUC, Amy Murphy Usdaw EC member and Activist supporter will join other trade union speakers at the Arundel Suite, Holiday Inn, 137 King’s Road, Brighton BN1 2JF on Sunday 10th September 2017, 1pm. Delegates to TUC Congress and anybody else who can make, especially anyone in nearby regions like Southern and Eastern are welcome.



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Activist 69


Firstly, our condolences and solidarity go out to those affected by the Manchester bombing in which two Usdaw members were the victims.
Secondly, here is Usdaw Activist 69 – featuring articles on the general election, Manchester bombing and a report of ADM.
For PDF see: UsdawActivist69


Categories: Uncategorized

Robbie Segal

December 14, 2012 Leave a comment
Robbie Segal

Robbie Segal

It is with great sadness that we have to report the death of Robbie Segal. Robbie was a leading activist in the Socialist Party and a tireless fighter to democratise Usdaw.

In 2008, Robbie stood as a candidate for the post of general secretary and her fighting programme won over 40 percent of her vote. In her pamphlet on the election, she wrote, ‘Only a socialist society offers a solution to the blight we face at present.’ A belief that guided her actions throughout her life.

The Activist and the Socialist Party will publish a full obituary in the coming weeks on the life of our beloved comrade.

Activist pamphlet including many articles from Robbie's General Secretary campaign in 2008

Activist pamphlet including many articles from Robbie’s General Secretary campaign in 2008

A pamphlet with articles from Robbie’s camapign around the 2008 General Secretary campaign was produced earlier this year and is still available from the Activist, e-mail us at for more info

You can also watch a video of Robbie speaking at the Socialism 2008 event shortly after winning over 40% of the vote in the General Secretary election.

Striking drivers block Tesco Distribution Centre

December 10, 2012 1 comment
Striking Tesco drivers block the exit from the Doncaster depot

Striking Tesco drivers block the exit from the Doncaster depot

5 days into an all out strike by Tesco drivers operating out of the Doncaster Distribution Centre I was finally able to visit the picket lines and bring solidarity and support from those members of Usdaw who want to see a fighting union which stands up to Tesco and other bullying employers like the drivers are doing.

A Yorkshire Usdaw member

As the Activist and the Socialist newspaper have reported, this follows earlier strike days by the drivers who have been outsourced to Eddie Stobarts Ltd who now want to effectively sack them, only offering them jobs elsewhere in country on over £2 less an hour than they currently recieve. This agressive, race-to-the-bottom move will come as no suprise, especially USDAW members in Tesco stores, who have seen Tesco this year unilaterally ignore the so-called partnership agreement to impose increased retirement ages and changes to bonuses.

Striking Tesco drivers block the exit from the Doncaster depot

Striking Tesco drivers block the exit from the Doncaster depot

As it happened I picked a particularly interesting day to be there. Following a demonstration on Saturday through the town where afterwards strikers had blocked one of the entrances for around 45 minutes, they decided to up the ante and moved en masse into the both the entrance and exit from the depot, refusing to let lorries pass through. The result was perhaps 100 lorries parked up almost anywhere nearby possible whilst the police were called to try a negotiate getting some of them into the depot.

As the lorries came past we saw contracters coming in from as far away as Evesham, nailing the lie that Tesco and Stobarts have been spinning that the drivers were surplus to requirements, indeed Tesco and/or Stobarts must be spending a fortune on the dispute to break the union. The strikers attempted to discuss with all the drivers, managing to turn some succesfully away, whilst others were less friendly with one even hitting a picket. Some were even so hasty they went into the depot the wrong way, causing even further delays as they tried to manouvere themselves out of the way.

Police eventually turned up in numbers to make the pickets move to let lorries into the depot

Police eventually turned up in numbers to make the pickets move to let lorries into the depot

This action will have hit Tesco hard, reports from workers in the warehouse coming off shift at 2pm spoke of hardly having any pallets left in the warehouse. What a shame that Usdaws leadership, instead of taking effective action like this, instead seek negotiations that get nowhere and instead sell our terms and conditions down the river. Usdaw members in Tesco distribution, whether drivers or warehouse staff, should particular be asking such questions given the anger at this years ADM over this issue (see report in Activist 33).

As a member of Usdaw, I also asked what could be done to help build links between the drivers and Usdaw members working for Tesco, especially in stores. The drivers have received a number of solidarity messages from Usdaw reps that they are grateful for, but are especially keen for other Usdaw members in the area to come and join them picketing. The strikers are also drafting an appeal to Tesco store workers which the Activist will hopefully be able to publish soon.

Vion – Proof We Need A Fighting Leadership.

November 26, 2012 Leave a comment

There has been a huge decimation of Scottish food manufacturing this autumn, and Usdaw members have borne the brunt.

A Scottish USDAW member

Both the Halls of Broxburn factory in West Lothian and the Freshlink foods factory in Shettleston have closed with the loss of over 1,850 jobs within a matter of months.

On the 16th of October the news section of the USDAW website reported – ‘Usdaw bitterly disappointed as no credible buyers found for Hall’s’. The factory was closing after a 90 day consultation period between the parent company Vion, Usdaw and the Scottish government, sealing the fate of 1,700 manufacturing jobs.

What wasn’t reported was that during this 90 day process, the Area Organiser concerned wanted to take a delegation of workers over to the Netherlands to protest at Vion’s head office. This would have enabled these workers to have their demands heard by the remote management who are making decisions that are affecting thousands of members’ lives. The response from the bureaucrats at head office was that since Usdaw represents members in other subsidiaries of this company then they shouldn’t go over and rock the boat.

Then on 19th of November the same section of the website reported –

‘Dutch food manufacturer Vion has announced its intention to sell all of its UK food businesses, creating uncertainty for 13,000 employees who work at the company’s 38 UK sites.’

Now that Vion are withdrawing from the UK and there is no boat to rock, whoever held back these workers should hang their heads in shame. Members are being prevented from organising to protect their jobs in order to protect agreements with employers who are only interested in a subdued workforce. The whole approach under John Hannett, of protecting agreements and hoping things will get better under Labour is a dead end. We as members have to claim back our union from the bureaucracy, and demand that this whole fiasco be investigated and the facts be fully reported to the membership.

Activist supports sacked Tesco drivers

November 9, 2012 Leave a comment

A photo from the picket lines

In one of the biggest disputes involving Tesco workers in the last decade, 182 drivers went on strike for three days on the 31st of October following a successful and well-supported strike on the 9th. Calously in the run-up to Christmas, also the busiest time of the year for Tesco stores, the drivers were handed 90 day notices of redundancy. The distribution contract was transferred over to Eddie Stobbart Ltd in August with the loss of the workers’ pension schemes and other benefits.

To add insult to injury they then handed out the notices with no guarantee of re-employement at the end. The new contracts will have them working on £2.50 less an hour. A strike ballot was called and 91.7% of the Unite-organised drivers voted to come out. The naked greed of Tesco has yet again been laid bare. With their £3.8 billion profit last year, similar profits registered throughout the recession and with top executives on £1.6million each, Tesco has clearly done a back-room deal with Eddie Stobbart’s to tear up the TUPE agreement thereby attempting to leave their loyal workforce on the scrap-heap.

The local support of the strikers and the disruption caused through the Yorkshire and Humbershide region during this strike has shown the potential to make ESL back down. It was clear that despite their claims they don’t have the spare capacity within their existing workforce to carry out the deliveries performed by the Tesco drivers. This was evident by the fact that they had to employ a scab firm, Taylors, during the strike.

Usdaw members will have been watching this dispute closely, with similar crimes taking place within distribution for decades. Unite has so far played a decent role in backing their drivers and certainly John Hannett and his cronies can take a leaf out of their book when it comes to defending his own members. Usdaw members are just as angry about the cuts and pay-caps as Unite members, we need to force our leadership to stand firm and defend retail and distribution workers nation-wide.

The Activist calls on Usdaw members to raise the strike in their Usdaw branch meetings. We call on members to support the drivers by sending messages of support to Trevor Cheetham c/o (Send copies to

There have been a number of protests outside Tesco stores taking place and we call for branches to organise similar support. There was also a protest in Westminster on the 31st and more last week. The National Shop Stewards Network, which the Activist supports, took part. Unite will provide leaflets and placards to anyone wishing to organise a protest outside their local Tesco, email Paul Davies ( – Unite Sector National Organiser) with details of which Tesco you intend to protest outside, how many you expect there and include your mobile number. Also let the Activist know so we can report on your protest.

US Walmart Workers Strike Against Bullying Bosses

October 9, 2012 Leave a comment

This was originally written for an upcoming issue of the Activist. However as a further strike involving Walmart store workers in five states, as well as others in the supply chain, has taken place we will be looking towards publishing a further updated article in the future. We publish it now as we think this will be of large interest to many USDAW members and supporters of the Activist. Activist editors

On Thursday 4th October, US retail workers made history when they went on strike in several Walmart stores in Florida. Around 60 morning-shift workers picketed the Pico Rivera store, whilst other workers from later shifts and 9 other stores in the Los Angeles area joined them later.

The strike was organised by Organisation United for Respect  at OUR Walmart (OUR Walmart), which is backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and follows a several thousand strong march in Los Angeles a few months earlier and a fifteen day strike by Walmart warehouse workers in Florida, which included a six-day march to draw attention to their working conditions (which include working in 120 degree farenheit temperatures).

The strike was organised around a series of clear demands put forward by UFCW’s Making Change at Walmart (which includes OUR Walmart). These include a minimum pay for Walmart employees of $25,000 a year (around £15,500 a year), compared to the $15,500 the average fulltime worker gets currently. It also includes demands around quality, affordable health care and Walmart’s signature on a global union agreement to recognize workers’ right to organise amongst others. OUR Walmart has also raised the demand that full time jobs are made available to all that want them to current the trend towards cutting workers hours that many UK retail workers will unfortunately be familiar with.

These events show that there should be no no-go industries for the trade union movement, industrial action can be organised in even the most bitter anti-union employers with the most downtrodden employees. OUR Walmart adopted a strategy of mobilising its members into active campaigning through a variety of campaign strategies from petitioning to protests, building towards industrial action. This also, makes a mockery of the ideas of some that retail workers will not take industrial action.

This brings home all the points that the Activist has raised in opposition to the ‘partnership’ approach of the USDAW leadership around John Hannett. Bold action to defend USDAW member’s interests can bring un-organised workers into our union.