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Posted on 17 December 2010 at 13:02 GMT

Workers at Heinz strike in Wigan

Twelve hundred Heinz workers struck for 24 hours at the heart of operations of the company in Wigan, Lancashire.

Hugh Caffrey, North West Socialist Party

These workers in the Unite union are demanding fair pay and plan further action should management remain intransigent.

Heinz is a super-profitable $10 billion multinational which, like much of the private sector, has accumulated bags of cash for its bosses during the recession.

Meanwhile workers' wages are ground down by inflation and investment is neglected. "Smart" financial trickery netted one boss 12 million.

Yet workers are offered a maximum of 3.3%. Real inflation is running at 4.7% according to the Retail Prices Index. Even the government-favoured inflation measure, CPI, is at 3.3%.

Workers' real wages are falling, chewed up by the rising cost of living even in the recession.

Walk out

This is why Unite members walked out on 15-16 December, bringing the factory to a complete halt.

Pickets on all the factory entrances were supported by a large demonstration of workers outside the main gates.

Unite members spoke of the regime of bullying and intimidation inside the factory, with one worker returning from time taken off sick to cope with bereavement greeted by a disciplinary notice from the employers.

When management turned off the lights above the main gates, leaving pickets in the dark, this was met with derisory laughter from workers who have no intention of being intimidated by these petty tricks.

Impressively, almost 90% voted in favour of strike action.

The 95% vote for action short of strike is enforcing a solid overtime ban and work-to-contract.

Ian Wright, Unite convenor, said that employers nationally and internationally are watching whether Heinz can impose a real-terms pay cut.

Ian explained therefore how important it is that Heinz workers win the dispute and cut across a 'race to the bottom' in food manufacturing wages.

The next strike day will be Tuesday 21 December for 24 hours from 6am.

Further action between Christmas and New Year's Day may be necessary.


Send messages of support to wrightian5@sky.com.


Can your union branch or organisation make a donation to help fund the workers' struggle? Contact Ian for details of payment.

To make global protests to the company, see the details below.
Please copy messages of protest to Ian so that workers can see the support they are receiving.

UK

Nigel Dickie, 020 8848 2726 Nigel.Dickie@uk.hjheinz.com

Global

Michael Mullen 412-456-5751 Michael.Mullen@us.hjheinz.com

Heinz World Headquarters P.O. Box 57 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230, USA

US

Jessica Jackson, 412-237-3562 Jessica.Jackson@us.hjheinz.com

Tracey Parsons , 412-237-5774 Tracey.Parsons@us.hjheinz.com

Canada

Joan Patterson, 416-226-7587 Joan.Patterson@ca.hjheinz.com

Mexico / Venezuela -

Antonio Nunez, +58 212-909-1811 MediaContact@heinz.com.ve

Poland

Katarzyna Gospodarek, + 48 (0) 22 567 2150, Katarzyna.Gospodarek@pl.hjheinz.com

Italy

Antonio Cartolari, +39 02 5256 2357 Antonio.Cartolari@it.hjheinz.com

Netherlands

Peter Boterman, +31 30 697 Peter.Boterman@nl.hjheinz.com

Hein Kroft, +31 30 697 3606 Hein.Kroft@nl.hjheinz.com

Australia

Jessica Ramsden, +61 3 9861 5015, Jessica.Ramsden@au.hjheinz.com

China

Alice Wang, +(8620)8770-6218, Alice.Wang@cn.hjheinz.com

Japan

Akemi Tahara, +81 3 5687 7513, Akemi.Tahara@jp.hjheinz.com

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