Usdaw flag
Usdaw flag

Helen Harris, Swindon Socialist Party

A bright and breezy spring day welcomed Swindon’s GXO drivers at their Upper Stratton warehouse onto the street, at the start of the Usdaw union’s 48-hour strike.

The dispute, over equal pay, has been rumbling for over ten years.Workers at the B&Q warehouse are paid nearly 10% less than those in similar workplaces in the north of England, where the cost of living and especially house prices are lower.

In addition, Swindon’s workers cover London, with all the difficulties that driving in the city entails.

The dispute has finally boiled over into action, partly through the impacts of the rising cost of living, but also through the mobilisation work of the Usdaw rep, and the frustration engendered by GXO management. They recently called a meeting but failed to put an improved offer on the table.

Usdaw has 135 drivers at the site, plus a few agency workers. Usdaw membership is over 90% and has risen in recent years due to the activities of the local rep.

The disparity in pay exists because historically Swindon’s workers are members of Usdaw, whereas the northern workers are members of Unite. There was a previous attempt by workers in Swindon to join Unite, but the complex procedure of getting a union recognised did not succeed at that time.

GXO is a US-based company which has reported over 12.5% increase on earnings for 2023 and over 25% increase over the previous year.

Morale and determination are high and the workers are being well supported by the Usdaw officials, as well as some of the agency drivers and passing traffic.