Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/467/1904
Mass meeting prepares for action
JJB SPORTS warehouse workers in Wigan held a well-attended mass meeting last week to organise the fight against bullying management. Socialist Party members spoke at the meeting, bringing messages of solidarity and ideas for building support across the country.
These workers won a massive victory on pay and conditions several weeks ago through determined industrial action. Now the bosses are refusing to honour the agreements made and are trying to break the union through sacking the steward Chris Riley and victimising the convenor.
According to GMB regional official Sandra Knight: "The level of victimisation is unprecedented in my experience. It seems that the managers have been given the green light to exact retribution from this low-paid workforce for their 'cheek' in staging a lawful strike. Bullying and harassment is rife in the warehouse. Clearly the signal for this behaviour comes right from the top of the company."
Addressing the mass meeting, Socialist Party member Christian Bunke pointed to the need to establish solidarity committees for the dispute around the country. He called for the organisation of more protests at JJB Sports stores to maintain the pressure on JJB bosses.
Chris Riley told us: "I told the meeting of the support that was out there and of the demos that have taken place and the ones taking place this weekend. They were overwhelmed by it. It was great being able to tell them in person. It has given them a real buzz and they really now know that they can take this dictator of a boss on.
"People have said that we at JJB are an inspiration to them in their fights but it is you and your support that is the inspiration to us. We feel we can fight on and win. I spoke to Jon our convenor on Thursday and he said the whole workplace was buzzing. People were talking about the meeting and the support we have.
"I have been asked by all at JJB that I pass their many many thanks on to you all. This has touched them and inspired them. One woman said to me that she knew this was a big fight at JJB but had no idea of how much it had been followed and supported. She was truly taken aback by it."
Workers are balloting for strike action in the run-up to Christmas to secure reinstatement for Chris and an end to all victimisation.
There will be protests outside JJB Sports shops and at Wigan Football Club's match against Chelsea on 23 December. JJB boss Dave Whelan is chairman of Wigan FC.
There will be a demo at the match with Blackburn on 1 January 2007. GMB members in Manchester plan to hold a demonstration at Old Trafford when Wigan FC visits on 26 December.
In The Socialist 15 December 2006:
War and terrorism
Violence against women
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
The Socialist Xmas quiz