The Socialist 22 September 2005
Unite against war, terror and racism
Morrisons: No job losses, no store closures!
"MORRISONS BOUGHT Safeway in January 2003 for £2.9 billion, gambling that this would lead to higher profits.
In the last twelve months, share values have fallen by over 20%. Now Morrison's management is expecting its workforce to pay for the mistake it made".
A leaflet beginning with these words was handed out by Socialist Party activists running two stalls in Tunbridge Wells and one in Hastings last Saturday. In West Kent, Morrisons plan to close their distribution depot at Aylesford with the loss of several hundred jobs and put their Tunbridge Wells store on the market, putting 130 jobs at risk.
These plans have not gone unchallenged. Nine days of industrial action, involving the GMB (which represents Aylesford) and the TGWU, is scheduled to start on 23 September.
The threat to close the distribution depots and stores is firstly a threat to jobs from a company well-known for its arrogant style of management. The Aylesford depot is one of the principal employers in a fairly small town.
The trend to close medium sized town centre stores, like the one in Tunbridge Wells, and move them to industrial estates on the outskirts of towns discriminates against those with no access to a car - those on low incomes. They are forced to use shops with a smaller, less healthy and higher-priced range of products.
The closure of Tesco's in the town centre has been on the cards for some years, so this may soon be a reality.
There is also the clear environmental impact resulting from forcing shoppers to make all journeys to buy food by car rather than on foot. On our leaflet and in discussions with the public we therefore raised the idea of a broader community-based campaign against the cuts.
The GMB and TGWU are due to reopen negotiations with Morrisons on 21 September.
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