Movianto workers on strike. Photo: Trevor Palmer
Movianto workers on strike. Photo: Trevor Palmer

Trevor Palmer, Stevenage Socialist Party

Unite the Union members are in dispute with their employer Movianto, over union recognition for hourly paid staff. The company flatly refuses to agree, which has led to an increase in membership as well as an appetite for action.

The union has been in discussion with management since June. Membership began at about 65 members among the staff who carry out functions such as pickers and forklift truck drivers.  Since the beginning of the action, that has grown to around 90, reported to be 65-70% of the warehouse floor.

Nearly 80% voted for action and a strike was held from 8-12 January. The pickets and rally were very well supported by at least 60 of the members, the majority never having been involved in such action before. They were in high spirits and making a tremendous noise with almost no breaks. The pickets were supported by other Unite members, Stevenage and Watford Trades Councils and the Socialist Party.

Notice now served, the members are due to strike for another full week from 29 January to 2 February

Movianto is a specialised medical warehousing company with a presence across Europe. Strike action is likely to cause significant disruption to their operation.

Strikers have told us that the management response has been to bus in workers from their other sites.

They have referred to their in-house committees for raising staff concerns, as if this means there is no need for a union. They argue that the members Unite represents are not much of the total workforce, but the demand is to represent the hourly paid shop floor staff, not the whole site. They even argue that no one is hourly paid – but if you are paid a rate per hour, and clock on and off, then … !

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