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Strikes show new mood
Nearly 150 drivers at the Tesco depot in Livingston, Scotland, are in dispute over the imposition of new contracts. These would mean losses of between £3,000 and £6,000 a year and de-recognition of their union when the depot is moved just 500 yards down the road. Drivers voted by 126 to 6 in a ballot to strike.
A second 24-hour walkout, planned for 5 June has been suspended. The TGWU section of Unite called it off after management offered to open talks.
This action and that of the Sunvic workers in Uddingston are important examples of a new mood beginning to emerge. On the one hand, employers are arbitrarily changing contracts and attempting to sack workers when they refuse to accept these changes without negotiation.
On the other hand, workers are prepared to take strike action and pull their union leadership into supporting it.
It is crucial that these workers receive widespread support from the whole labour and trade union movement. These aggressive attacks on workers' wages and conditions, if allowed to succeed, will only encourage other bosses. "An injury to one is an injury to all."
After ten weeks of strike action by the Sunvic workers, involving growing support from the Solidarity Party in the community, alongside activists in the FBU, management finally agreed to ACAS conciliation talks which lasted three days.
On Friday 1 June their union, Unite, called off a march and rally planned by the Sunvic workers for the following day.
When management finally accepted that any lay-offs proposed in the future would have to be subject to 'pendulum arbitration', the workers reluctantly accepted ACAS advice to return to work.
On 4 June at 7.30am, the workforce gathered outside the factory and returned to work united in their determination to resist any future attempts to undermine their contracts.
Similar support and community action which has been evident in the Livingston area may well result in a retreat by Tesco management.
Ray Gunnion, CWI Scotland
In The Socialist 7 June 2007:
War and terrorism
Socialist Party workplace news
G8 Summit protests
What we think
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Workplace news and analysis