The Socialist 23 November 2006
Public health not private profit
JJB Sports workers score a victory
AFTER FIVE days of strike action, an overtime ban and solidarity protests across the country, workers at JJB Sports distribution depot in Wigan have scored a famous victory. Majority shareholder in JJB Sports is multi-millionaire chairman of Wigan Athletic, Dave Whelan. Despite his penny-pinching and his union-busting, workers organised by the GMB have struck a blow against low pay.
Hugh Caffrey spoke on behalf of the socialist to union rep Chris Riley:
"We first started negotiations with the chief executive some time ago, for equal pay across the board.
"We were also asking for the productivity bonus and attendance bonus to be available to all workers and for other benefits such as a day off for bereavement leave. We pretty much had agreement on that when it was scuppered by Dave Whelan. Whelan offered us a 3% pay rise and nowt else - take it or leave it. That led to us taking action, and now we've virtually clinched what we originally asked for.
"We've won pay increases of up to £1.05 for some workers, from the minimum wage of £5.35 to £6.40 including the attendance bonus, quite a dramatic increase!
"Everyone's now on the performance bonus, before it was just the pickers but now everyone shares in it and we've won the bereavement rights as well.
"The support from right across all sectors, nationally, all walks of life, has been absolutely overwhelming. From Scotland to London, university students to retired teachers to trades councils like Manchester and Oldham. Just while I've been talking to you I've had another message of support!
"Now we're going to campaign in the workplace on industrial relations, we want management on board not on our backs! And the GMB is taking up the agencies that we know were providing scab labour during the strike.
"When the ballot for the strike first went out, management assured us there'd be no extra staff brought in to cover for the strikers. But we know that's not true, we've got the evidence and the GMB are going to take this as far as possible.
"It's happened to us this time but, it could be someone else next week with the same agencies, so we're going to keep pushing on that.
"This dispute and the solidarity we've been shown has inspired me and all the workers, what we've learnt from this is that we'll support other workers anywhere."
If you'd like Chris or another JJB worker to speak at your union branch or to make links with your organisation/campaign, contact Chris at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this issue
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The Socialist Interview
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