Posts Tagged ‘partnership’

Give members a vote on pay deals in Tesco

Usdaw members in Tesco have not had a vote on pay for over two decades since the union and the company entered into a partnership agreement in 1998. Over time Tesco members have seen an erosion of terms and conditions, cuts to premiums, redundancies, low hour contracts, flexi contracts and staff shortages. As well as a decline in Usdaw membership in Tesco.

We believe every member should have the right to an individual vote on their pay. We call for a return of the ballot on pay to replace the current ‘forum’ process. And we have an opportunity to strike a blow now as a first step towards this.

At the 2019 Usdaw annual delegate meeting in Blackpool in May a proposition was moved forward by North Sussex calling for a ‘one member, one vote’ in Tesco pay negotiations. The proposition called for the Tesco membership to have the individual right to vote on their pay by an in-store ballot run by reps in a similar way as distribution sites, and in companies such as Morrisons.

The pay deal would still be negotiated by the national forum but the final say would ultimately sit with the Usdaw membership in Tesco. The proposition was vigorously debated and culminated in a card vote – For 235,577 (68.85%) and Against 106,600 (31.15%).

Usdaw’s executive committee has decided to refer the terms of the proposition to the national officer with responsibility for Tesco for action as appropriate. To help deliver the sentiment behind this proposition, if individual members of Tesco wish to gain the right to vote on their pay it is imperative that they raise it on their staff forums for escalation to the Store Director Forum (SD Forum).

I encourage all Usdaw members in Tesco, submit this issue to be discussed in your store forum to go the SD Forums and make sure your voices are heard!

Amy Murphy, Usdaw President (personal capacity)

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Activist 42: ADM 2013 Special

April 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Includes articles on fighting back against cuts and austerity, looks at some of the propositions on the ADM interim agenda and an article on the recent TUSC trade union forum

Activist 41

Includes articles on Tesco, Thomas Cook, Remembering Robbie Segal, Usdaw and the General strike and letters

Action Needed to Oppose Tesco Distribution Centre Closures

March 13, 2013 Leave a comment

We respond to an e-mail received on distribution centres closures

Hi Activist

Thanks for sending Robbie Segal’s pamphlet. Massive shame that Hannett never read her words on Distribution. Tesco announce attacks on workers at 7 distribution sites. Usdaw issues a press statement. But do nothing.

Robbie said that distribution centres should ‘not be left to be picked off one by one’. That is what seems to have happened. Hannett open your eyes to what is happening, Your ‘partnership’ strategy is failing.

Jack, by email


Activist comment: The points you make about Usdaw’s slavish support of partnership with the major retail companies was the reason Robbie and other on Usdaw’s left felt it was essential that John Hannett was challenged for the post of general secretary.

The issue of the attacks against the well organised distribution centres was raised by the Socialist Party supporters back in 2007, when all Tesco distribution sites were circulated with a leaflet calling for coordinated action to defend terms and conditions.

During the 2008 Usdaw general secretary election, the matter was again raised. Robbie’s warnings were ignored.

A recent Usdaw press release, giving the latest number of job loses, illustrates the dangers of Hannett’s passive attitude towards all Tesco’s actions:

1. Closure of Harlow affecting 562 staff

2. Closure of Chesterfield affecting 343 staff

3. Closure of Weybridge affecting 562 staff

4. Reduction in staff numbers at Magor by 146

5. Reduction in staff numbers at Welham Green by 70

Usdaw’s response is to examine ‘the business case for these proposed changes.’ Our members have the right to ask is that all we are going to do. And, surely we already know the business case.

Usdaw’s leaders in 1998 argued for a partnership strategy that declared, ‘It means the union is consulted on a wide range of issues’ and ‘Partnership means proper dialogue with the union before decisions are taken’.

Clearly, Tesco have a long term strategy of weakening our members T&Cs in distribution centres and over the last decade have been slowly implement it, Whereas, Usdaw’s response is to examine the ‘business case’. As the emalier rightly points out ‘Your partnership strategy is failing.’ The Activist considers it is about time the industrial approach of partnership is reassessed by the ADM.

Categories: Updates Tags: , ,

Sherburn Sainsbury’s Drivers Ditch Usdaw

January 10, 2013 Leave a comment

Update: Since this article we have had correspondence with Unilever activists in Unite regarding that dispute where we criticised Unite for accepting what we think was a sub-par offer. Whilst the substantive points remain that inside any union it is only an active membership that can ensure struggles to defend jobs, pay and conditions can be won, we would like to retract our remarks in this article regarding Unite during the dispute at Unilever. We will be publishing an article shortly which will discuss in more detail the course of events during that dispute. Editors.

Over the last four weeks 150 Usdaw members in the transport department at the Sainsbury depot, operated by Wincanton, in Sherburn-in-Elmet, near Leeds, have joined Unite en masse. This was preceeded by 80 union members signing a petition of no-confidence in Usdaw as well as the removal of 2 reps, kicking another rep of Academy, allegations of ballot rigging and imposition of a rep without election. Two union reps also resigned as shop stewards in protest at this behaviour by Usdaw.

Usdaw has been the recognised union at the depot since it opened 5 years ago, signing away terms and conditions in the process as well as agreeing a no strike agreement. Anger over this was particularly visible at Usdaw’s ADM in April this year, where delegates from the depot branch were very critical of the union’s leadership. They moved motions criticising the collective agreement signed by Usdaw, opting drivers out of 10-hour night work limits as well as the union’s lack of media presence.  The result of this shows just what a sham recruitment gains from partnership approaches are likely to be, whilst the numbers may increase in some instances, the ability of the union to fight for their members is hampered dramatically causing those selfsame new members to leave.

As we commented in issue 38 of the Activist, “Usdaw members will have been watching this dispute closely, with similar crimes taking place within distribution for decades.” In her election material (reproduced in the recent Activist pamphlet) the late Robbie Segal detailed the erosion of terms and conditions, particularly in distribution, and predicted that at some point Usdaw membership would revolt against this, with massive discontent over this visible at this year’s ADM. It appears the drivers at the depot have been watching this dispute and have decided that Unite may be more proactive in fighting for their interests and supporting them in doing so.

Whilst the Activist sympathises with the drivers decision, we have to strike some notes of caution. Despite Unite playing a fighting role in a whole number of recent disputes including Doncaster Tesco, London bus workers and especially the sparks dispute which have seen victories, that does not mean it will always represent members in such fashion. Despite many positive signs since the election of Len McCluskey as General Secretary two years ago, the leadership still needs on occasions to be pushed into action, this was the case during the sparks dispute, but also in the Unilever dispute last year it was Unite’s acceptance of a sub-par improved offer which then led to Usdaw accepting the offer.

Now that the drivers have joined Unite, the Usdaw leadership is attempting to obfuscate the issue, alleging poaching by Unite and demanding the drivers are transferred back to them, referring the issue to the TUC disputes committee. Yet Usdaw has been hauled before the TUC disputes committee earlier this year by Unite for signing an agreement with DHL in Dartford where Usdaw had no members but Unite had been organising on the site.

It is a travesty that the action of Usdaw officials has forced reps out of the union. But despite some promises made at a union branch meeting for evidence relating to the alleged ballot rigging to be made available, Usdaw have addressed none of the concerns of the drivers. Indeed they have been punished for raising such concerns

Indeed in their letter to ex-Usdaw members at the workplace one of the few reasons they state for workers to remain in Usdaw is loss of membership benefits.  “By leaving Usdaw you have also broken your service with the union. You may be aware that after twelve months Usdaw membership you are eligble to claim sickness benefit, paternity grant, death grant and dispute benefit. Eligibility to stand for elected positions will also be lost.” But by signing no-strike agreements and removing reps Usdaw was already denying their members these very rights. This was followed up by a joint letter from the company and Usdaw to members encouraging them

Usdaw members should demand a full accounting of what has transpired and how Usdaw have officials have dealt with the complaints raised by the now ex-Usdaw members. Our union should be fully transparent with its members. Usdaw and other unions should not play into the hands of employers and help them divide workforces, either by signing agreements over the heads of workers or trying to force them to belong to a union that because of their experiences they no longer want to be a member of. In the interests of accountability, all the complaints against Usdaw should be included in the Annual report, thus allowing the members to discuss the tactics being adopted by our top officials. It is in the interests of trade unionists that these issues are resolved quickly, and instead of infighting we see joint union action on a fighting strategy to improve the working conditions of drivers and all retail and distribution workers.

The best way to make the issues clear is to make sure there is an urgent campaign over demands that the drivers have raised. If no action is taken to improve conditions at the depot then this will reinforce the position of the Usdaw leadership, as well as demoralising drivers at the depot further. It is to their huge credit that rather than giving up on the trade union movement they have decided to try and start afresh.

A campaign around clear demands for improved conditions at the depot should be mounted, particularly on the issue of the 10 hour night-work limit. Additionally a formal statement should be issued by the drivers to explain to other members in Usdaw why they took the action they did, including a call for a joint campaign of all unions in distribution to fight for decent terms and conditions for all drivers in the industry.

Categories: Updates Tags: , , ,

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 36: TUC Demo Special

October 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Articles on the living wage and the general strike