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From The Socialist newspaper, 26 April 2017

Usdaw ADM 2017: Left challenge needed to end assault on retail jobs and conditions

Usdaw conference delegates supporting striking junior doctors last year, 26.4.16, photo Scott Jones

Usdaw conference delegates supporting striking junior doctors last year, 26.4.16, photo Scott Jones   (Click to enlarge)

Amy Murphy, Usdaw executive council member (personal capacity)

In 2016 many changes were made within the big four supermarkets as they adapted to falling sales. The Coop, Sainsburys, Morrisons and Tesco all saw many store closures and thousands of jobs lost.

Within Tesco it didn't just stop with closures - new developments were scrapped, head office jobs were cut, layers of management removed and office hours shortened.

A complete restructure took place, leading to less full time positions replaced by short-hour flexi contracts. Then just before Christmas several stores, my own included, made cuts and changes resulting in huge redundancies.

Accounting scandal

To top it all, Tesco was facing a £263 million accounting scandal. So where are we now? When you think things cannot get any worse it all starts again!

1,700 deputy managers' jobs lost in Tesco Express stores, replaced by lower paid shift leader roles. More 24-hour trading hours cut, counter closures, colleague rooms outsourced, opticians now being sold off to Vision Express - all resulting in more redundancies.

Tesco has just been fined £129 million by the Serious Fraud Office for the accounting scandal. Once again it's the low paid workers who pay the price for mistakes made at the top.

With the number of job losses over the last year it's no wonder that Usdaw's membership has taken a downward turn. For the first time in 22 years we are losing members.

Now, more than ever, Usdaw needs to be strong for its members and take on the issues faced by retail workers head on, Usdaw needs to push back attempts to erode terms and conditions and push for more full-time contracts.

Elections

2018 is a crucial year in the Usdaw calendar - both the executive council and the president are up for election and the need for a left challenge is crucial.

We should also support Jeremy Corbyn in the general election. To use the words of Jeremy: "Fairness for only a few is not fairness, but privilege."

Jeremy has committed to close the gap between top earners and low paid staff. With the right result on 8 June this could become a reality and be built on by a electing a left-wing Usdaw leadership.

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In The Socialist 26 April 2017:


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