The Socialist

The Socialist 14 January 2015

NHS in crisis: This emergency is no accident!

The Socialist issue 839

NHS in crisis: This emergency is no accident

Billionaires five times richer than in 2004

Circle vulture flies out of Hinchingbrooke

Stop the Tory strike ban plan

Them & Us


Help build an anti-cuts electoral alternative

Socialist Party Election Appeal 2015


France: counter terrorist threat with mass unity

Charlie Hebdo: no to terrorism

Sri Lankan elections: Butcher Rajapaksa defeated

Germany: what is behind Pegida?


London bus drivers unite in historic strike action

Shift change exposes employer's 'family values'

Tesco: shop workers need fighting union leadership

Workplace news in brief


A new era for New Era

A strange way to protect public services

Sedgehill School besieged by privateers

Freedom Riders ride again

Join the socialists to fight privatisation

Fighting fund targets smashed


Book review: Eleanor Marx - a life

The straightwashing of Pride

 
 
 
 

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Barbour strike: shift change exposes employer's 'family values'

'Family values not Barbour values' - strikers march on 9 January, photo by Elaine Brunskill

'Family values not Barbour values' - strikers march on 9 January, photo by Elaine Brunskill   (Click to enlarge)

Elaine Brunskill

Workers from Barbour's Gateshead warehouse are on four weeks of strike action against the imposition of changes to their terms and conditions.

On Friday 9 January around 100 strikers and supporters from the FBU, Unison, BFAWU bakers union and others participated in a march to Barbour's South Tyneside HQ.

One of the strikers commented that support for the strike was outstanding. He went on to say that Barbour management keep saying that the workers have been dragged into this action by Unite the union. Today's demo clearly shows this is not the case.

On the march the union's banner stated: "Family values not Barbour's values". This is in response to the company's website where they boast of being a business that honours "our Barbour family values".

Strikers at the warehouse said: "We've had these values preached to us over the years."

One of the Barbour marchers speaking to fellow strikers outside the company's HQ, photo by Elaine Brunskill

One of the Barbour marchers speaking to fellow strikers outside the company's HQ, photo by Elaine Brunskill   (Click to enlarge)

Many of the strikers have worked for the company for years, and feel shocked at the changed attitude of this "family orientated" company.

Gary Heaney, Unite shop steward, made the point that until recently Barbour's was regarded as a decent company to work for. However, he went on to say: "Now it feels all of a sudden it's about profit before people."

Strikers also commented that Barbour's advertising often showed families, albeit rich families, wearing their jackets. But if the changes go ahead it would have a detrimental effect on the workers' family life. Gary commented: "We would go from working to live, to living to work."

'Not our problem'

The main issue for the strikers is that Barbour is wanting to change shift patterns. Currently shifts run from 7.30am (or 8.30am) until 3.30pm (or 4.30pm). But Barbour wants workers to have a two-shift system. A dayshift between 6.30am and 3pm, and a backshift between 2.30pm and 11pm.

This has stunned the workforce, particularly because the industrial estate is in a really isolated location, with extremely poor public transport links. Workers who have raised issues around the safety of staff having a 15 minute walk along a desolate road in the dark were told by one of the company's directors: "At the end of the day that's not our problem."

Barbour is also attempting to impose a system whereby workers would be paid for 39 hours per week, but only work 37.5 hours. The excess hours would be banked, then at Barbour's discretion workers would be pulled into work when needed. This would mean the workforce being compelled to work weekends without any additional overtime pay.

In taking four weeks of industrial action Barbour strikers are showing they are serious about fighting these proposed changes.

A picket at the start of their four week strike, photo Elaine Brunskill

A picket at the start of their four week strike, photo Elaine Brunskill   (Click to enlarge)

  • Any messages of support to Gary Heaney: 07414 945 640
  • Donations to Unite, 55 Call Lane, Leeds. LS1 7BU. Cheques made payable to Unite the Union (clearly marked as a donation for the Barbour Dispute).

Update - 14.01.15: Barbour workers have won a victory and ended the strike following a new offer from management over shift patterns and pay. The strikers have returned to work today after voting to accept the deal.


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 9 January 2015 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.


In this issue


Socialist Party news and analysis

NHS in crisis: This emergency is no accident

Billionaires five times richer than in 2004

Circle vulture flies out of Hinchingbrooke

Stop the Tory strike ban plan

Them & Us


Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Help build an anti-cuts electoral alternative

Socialist Party Election Appeal 2015


International socialist news and analysis

France: counter terrorist threat with mass unity

Charlie Hebdo: no to terrorism

Sri Lankan elections: Butcher Rajapaksa defeated

Germany: what is behind Pegida?


Socialist Party workplace news

London bus drivers unite in historic strike action

Shift change exposes employer's 'family values'

Tesco: shop workers need fighting union leadership

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

A new era for New Era

A strange way to protect public services

Sedgehill School besieged by privateers

Freedom Riders ride again

Join the socialists to fight privatisation

Fighting fund targets smashed


Socialist Party comments and reviews

Book review: Eleanor Marx - a life

The straightwashing of Pride


 

Home   |   The Socialist 14 January 2015   |   Join the Socialist Party

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