Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/793/17938
UPS workers' victory
Unite members working at the UPS depot in Camden, north London, won an important victory at the end of December.
The workers took strike action in November in protest at excessive workloads, forced overtime and a culture of bullying.
This has triggered demands from UPS workers in depots across the country to be balloted on the same issues.
The union has been building a national campaign - UPS workers in Camden do not want to be isolated. This is what happened in 2012 when a campaign at the depot ended badly, where members and reps became disillusioned and were picked off, including one rep who was sacked.
In 2013 the union began rebuilding with some considerable success, including new members and newly elected shop stewards.
Solid work on the ground, identifying the key issues and regular communication with workers built up confidence. This led to the magnificent strike in November - the first strike at UPS in the UK.
But on 10 December, in what was a clear act of trade union victimisation, UPS sacked one of the Camden reps.
Unite prepared the necessary legal claim and agreed financial support to the rep but most importantly, the union issued notice for strike action on 20 December, the busiest day of the year for the company.
The response from the company was immediate. The rep was reinstated, with the dismissal downgraded to a warning. The strike was postponed and talks are beginning at Acas.
At the same time, the union will ballot the membership, should the Acas talks not be successful.
It is possible to rebuild in workplaces, even where there have been past defeats and where the employer is as vicious as UPS.
The Camden UPS campaign now needs to be built into a national campaign, with the full force of the biggest union in the country taking on UPS with the aim to make lasting change.
In The Socialist 8 January 2014:
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