The Socialist 12 September 2012
Build a 24-hour general strike
Workers' unity against brutal bosses
Mick Whale, Secretary Hull NUT
Striking workers at the Cranswick Foods meat processing factory at Preston near Hull have won a temporary reprieve from brutal new working conditions.
Cranswick management want to speed up the track to further exploit the workforce.
A Cranswick worker explained: "At the moment, two of us working together are expected to process 500 carcasses an hour. Management want to have us working alone and have each one of us processing 350 carcasses an hour.
This is nearly a 50% increase in what we are expected to produce for no extra pay. In fact we haven't had a pay increase for ten years."
Management have not had to deal with a union and a strike before and they have clearly been shaken by the solidity of the strike and the determination of the strikers organised by the GMB.
The management have agreed to go back round the negotiating table and not implement the speed-ups for a month while negotiations continue. This is a reprieve rather than a victory but the strength of the union action has forced management back.
A particularly inspiring feature of the strike has been the unity of the overwhelming majority of the workforce who are Polish with the English workers.
This shows again that the labour movement and working class action can bring about unity.
The language difficulties have been at least partially overcome through the GMB producing leaflets in Polish.
As one English worker joked: "I can't understand a word they are saying but we all understand the words 'strike' and 'picket line'"
As the picket line broke up many of the Polish workers were chanting "GMB, GMB".
In this issue
Fight against austerity
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party feature: TUSC
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party workplace news
Fighting NHS cuts
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Reviews and comments