Bakers rise against Hovis: Victory shows zero-hours can be beaten

Bakers rise against Hovis: Victory shows zero-hours can be beaten

Members of the BFAWU bakers’ union have won a battle to stop Hovis from using agency workers and zero-hour contracts to drive down wages, terms and conditions.

Geoff Atkinson, BFAWU spokesperson, said: “Our members at Hovis have achieved an historic agreement with the company.

“This landmark action by 210 members of a modest-sized union, along with meaningful negotiations with the company, has brought about significant change that could potentially have a positive knock-on effect throughout the entire labour movement.

“This result is one that can and should be used as a starting point for all UK workers. They should no longer be prepared to accept the driving down of their terms and conditions as part of a nationwide race to the bottom. They have the right to real pay and real employment with real contracts; leaving a credible legacy for future generations of working people.”

Action get results

Hovis management conceded defeat following the second walkout and shortly before the bakers started their third seven-day strike.

Managers initially agreed to give 24 zero-hour contract workers full-time contracts following the first strike (see last week’s Socialist). Now they have also backed down on their plans to casualise the workforce.

Hovis say they’ll now only use agencies when “there is insufficient commitment by employees to work overtime and banked hours”.

Any agency staff who work a 39-hour week for 12 consecutive weeks will be moved on to parity pay. Hovis has said it will also review agency use and staff levels after three months, giving the potential for more permanent, full-time jobs.

This victory follows 14 days of strike action by workers determined to stop casualisation and pay cuts. The action saw round the clock pickets involving the majority of strikers, as well as a march through Wigan and a mood for solidarity action across the wider Hovis workforce.

Socialist Party members and National Shop Steward Network activists have supported the strike and picket lines, and will continue to do so if more action is needed to enforce the agreement.

Read the full BFAWU statement in the notebook