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Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/17317

Posted on 29 August 2013 at 12:45 GMT

Wigan Hovis workers on strike, 28.8.13, photo by Hugh Caffrey

Wigan Hovis workers on strike, 28.8.13, photo by Hugh Caffrey   (Click to enlarge)

Wigan Hovis bakers on seven-day strike against massive pay cuts and casualisation

Hugh Caffrey

Hundreds of bakers at the Hovis bakery in Wigan are on strike for seven days against zero-hour contracts and casualisation.

They are demanding that the company negotiate seriously, instead of ignoring existing agreements and imposing huge attacks on pay and conditions.

Members of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) walked out yesterday at 6pm and mounted strong pickets on all three site entrances.

Further seven-day strikes will run from 11th to 8th September, and 25th September to 2nd October.

Hovis is reducing hours, meaning pay cuts. It is using agency staff after making permanent staff redundant, meaning job cuts.

Agency staff are being paid less, with many on zero-hour "as and when" contracts, meaning even more pay cuts.

While many workers currently live nearby, use of agencies could mean loss of local jobs as desperate low-paid agency workers are brought in from further afield.

The loss in earnings is huge. Hourly pay is being cut from 13 to 8.60. Workers are losing 10,000 a year, while Hovis bosses are on six-digit salaries!

Geoff Atkinson of the BFAWU told me: "This is about fighting for our members to keep local jobs local, a fair day's pay for a fair day's work - not zero-hour contracts and reducing the amount paying them".

A press statement is on the BFAWU website at http://www.bfawu.org/view_news.php?ID=218

Wigan Hovis bakers on seven-day strike against pay cuts and casualisation, photo by Hugh Caffrey

Wigan Hovis bakers on seven-day strike against pay cuts and casualisation, photo by Hugh Caffrey   (Click to enlarge)

On the first day of strike action, three picket lines festooned in placards, banners and flags made a clear statement that this workforce will fight.

Hovis management has brought in strike-breakers from elsewhere; apparently paying for 35 of them to stay at the nearby Mercure hotel.

According to Mercure's website, a one-night stay costs 65-84.95. Clearly Hovis has an agenda of destroying workers' wages and casualising the majority of the jobs, and is far more willing to splash out on achieving that than pay their workforce a decent wage.

Workers at the Wigan factory held the line against previous attempts by Hovis bosses to attack terms and conditions.

Now they deserve full support from trade unionists and the wider public. Strikers are asking for local supporters to visit their picket lines and for everyone to send messages of support.

Visit the pickets at 60 Cale Lane, Aspull, Wigan, WN2 1HD. Send messages of support via the BFAWU website www.bfawu.org or to geoff.atkinson@bfawu.org

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 29 August 2013 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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