Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/515/3602
Scrooge employers attack shop workers
When the company you work for makes £2.7 billion in profit, then cuts your pay by £1.40 an hour, you begin to wonder what's going on. That's what happened at my workplace, just before I started in October.
East Midlands shop worker
I work from 11pm to 7am, at a 24-hour shop. The pay cut consisted of £1 an hour for working at night and 40p an hour for supervising the shop.
Head office decided unilaterally that night workers did not deserve an unsociable hours bonus, because the period we work is considered "normal opening hours". "Normal opening hours" also included every day in the holiday period except Christmas Day, with staff expected to work at the normal £5.80 an hour rate.
This is despite the fact that we are one of the only shops in the city that are open, so increased profits for the company!
"Bah humbug!", says this Scrooge-like employer, who did not even provide a staff Christmas party this year. They also decided that because we are employed as shop assistants, we would not be entitled to a supervisor rate, despite supervising the shop alone at night. This has understandably angered many of the staff.
However, rather than this leading to staff flooding to join the union for shop workers, USDAW, staff have complained about it individually, to no avail, with some leaving for different jobs. In fact, when I discussed with others about USDAW, they had either not heard of it before, or had been a member previously and decided that it was a waste of time and money.
When I started the job, I immediately joined USDAW and called the regional office to enquire about branch meetings. I was surprised to find out that they do not have meetings at the moment.
Joining USDAW is only one step. It's important once you've joined to try and get active in your workplace and local area. Workers in the retail sector are over-worked and under-paid and we need unions that will stand up for us.
There is a massive amount of potential for USDAW in the next year. A possible slow down in the economy would affect retail workers as people have less money to spend. This could result in cuts in hours or pay, or even job losses for some, as the people who own these big businesses try to make us pay for the slowdown.
In this climate, we need to organise through trade unions to make sure this doesn't happen. But as long as we have a system in which the fat cats have control, our conditions will continue to be attacked and inequality will worsen.
We will only see an end to the attacks on our living and working conditions by getting rid of this unequal system, and replacing it with a democratic socialist society in which all working people enjoy the wealth that we create.
For more information on organising with other Socialist Party members in USDAW, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
In The Socialist 10 January 2008:
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party review