Standing in line, hoping for work

Graham Lewis, GMB and TUSC candidate, Arboretum Ward

Hoping to get some work, I recently joined 200 other people queuing before 5.30am at Flower World in Derby. We were on short term zero-hour contracts and told to turn up as there may be some work on the day shortly before the Mothers’ Day rush. But I was told to go home as there was not enough.

Standing in line hoping to get work for the day is what the dockers had to endure many years ago when workers would climb over each other’s backs hoping to be chosen on the day. These desperate workers were struggling to survive. Workers face these conditions again today under the Con-Dem government.

Flower World have a number of full time staff but most are agency workers. Flowers arrive ready to be packaged from all over the world. Thai, Kenyan, Dutch, Bangladeshi blooms arrive before shift, straight from the airport.

Before supermarket chain Morrisons took over Flower World in Derby, the majority of 400 workers voted at a mass meeting to return to union recognition. But many are migrant workers and gangmasters who hired them are alleged to have threatened that their families back home would be harmed.

The agency workers went back home rather than see this happen. This ended, for now at least, the campaign to get union recognition. The trade union movement must campaign to stop this threat to workers’ rights!

As for myself, I had a few days at Flower World but I am now again struggling to find work.