Isai Priya, Tesco worker and Usdaw shop steward (personal capacity)
Britain’s biggest retailer, Tesco, reported that it had its best sales growth at the end of last year’s quarter for over five years. This profit was further boosted by the Christmas sales meaning that Tesco is on course to deliver a profit of “at least” £1.2 billion for 2016-17.
But this news brings no cheer to Tesco workers as the profits are kept away from them. At the same time, 1,015 Tesco workers will lose their jobs as Tesco announced that it is closing two distribution centres in Hertfordshire and Derbyshire. By this restructuring plan Tesco is planning to reduce the number of staff by about 500.
Last year hundreds of staff at Tesco lost out as a result of the pay deal which caused pay cuts in overtime, weekend and night premiums. Cuts in payroll budgets also meant that more and more retail workers were overworked. These cuts – with the added pressure from the managers to deliver the best customer service – meant that workers were squeezed until they had no more to give.
It is not a coincidence that Usdaw, the union that organises in retail and distribution, is the fourth largest union with over 450,000 members. More and more retail workers are joining the union.
At Usdaw conference in 2016, delegates from various retail stores called on the union to do more. These overworked and underpaid Tesco workers are not simply going to accept that there will be no pay rise or better conditions and Usdaw needs to back them up.
Tesco, by only giving a massive pay rise to the big bosses is increasing the anger of the workers.