Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

Posted on 10 December 2019 at 17:31 GMT

Morrisons Pay Deal

ACAS sides with management - a missed opportunity to fight

Morrisons, photo Jim Barton/CC

Morrisons, photo Jim Barton/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Iain Dalton, Usdaw Broad Left chair

In May Morrisons workers stunned management by rejecting its pay offer, with over two thirds of members of Usdaw, the shop workers' union, voting against, which would have given a 30p increase on the basic rate of pay to 9 an hour.

At the same time, Morrisons was also replacing the service bonus (commonly known as the Christmas bonus), which management claimed was separate but many members and reps saw as being traded away for a relatively meagre pay rise (still below Sainsbury's who are on 9.20 an hour).

At the time, Socialist Party members advocated a strategy to build a campaign amongst the membership to win more from management - including a meeting of lay reps to discuss a strategy and a national lobby of Morrisons' headquarters. But instead of giving a lead, the Morrisons' national reps instead mistakenly opted for binding arbitration through conciliation service Acas without any such campaign.

Undoubtedly, comparisons may be drawn with the failure of the GMB union to successfully fight the imposition of 'Contract 6' in Asda. However, unlike in Morrisons, Asda workers at least had a campaign, including numerous store protests, and three national demonstrations outside Asda headquarters in Leeds.

Of course, in both situations the 50% turnout threshold for strike action under the latest Tory anti-union laws provides an obstacle, especially in sectors where strike ballots have been rare, let alone strike action.

In the case of the GMB, Socialist Party members argued that one approach could have been to take targeted action in stores with a higher union density or those that were more affected by the contract imposition, in order to build up momentum for a campaign.

Given the lack of a fight - even to the extent that the GMB had in Asda - then demoralisation over the imposition of the pay deal will be felt even deeper among Usdaw members and reps in Morrisons.

While the Usdaw Broad Left did win some important recent elections, including that of President when Socialist Party member Amy Murphy was elected, there is no left majority on the union's executive.

The 'partnership' approach of former Usdaw general secretary John Hannett led to a similar situation in Tesco, where national reps rejected a pay offer in 2014, only for the subsequent meeting to be presented with the same offer which Tesco was then allowed to impose.

As we commented at the time: "This is the reality of partnership - a dictatorship where Tesco says jump and Usdaw's leaders end up asking how high. The only way to have shifted Tesco would have been to have organised a campaign to force them to come back with a better offer."(Usdaw Activist Issue 52)

To help challenge this approach, the consolidation of the Broad Left throughout the union structures needs to take place. There has been an influx of increased support seen in increased attendance at the Broad Left annual general meetings, but this needs to be consolidated into networks of Broad Left supporters in the different companies Usdaw organises in, in order to campaign for a fighting strategy to be adopted in relation to future pay negotiations.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


Related links:


triangleWorkers need a 'new deal' - at least 12 an hour now!

triangleMorrisons workers reject pay offer

triangleReject the mega-supermarket merger: nationalise to save jobs

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

triangleWorkplace news in brief


triangleCampaign stalls on jobs, pay, NHS and racism

triangleWhat would socialist universities look like?

triangleWorkplace news in brief

trianglePCS union: Reject longer DWP opening hours


triangleDebenhams: Fighting closures and redundancies

triangleMandatory masks in shops law

triangleSunday trading: Government blinks first


triangleEngage for Change Hull - trade union youth festival goes online

triangleUnite union branch pledges to support socialist candidates who oppose cuts


triangleCoordinated union struggle needed to save jobs and nationalise JCB

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns


Young Socialists

Young Socialist day of action


Socialist Party

Campaign stalls on jobs, pay, NHS and racism


Black Lives Matter

North London: Socialist Party speaks at BLM protest



Engage for Change Hull - trade union youth festival goes online


Socialist Party

Why I joined - Covid changed my outlook


Socialist Party

Socialist Party meetings: Online and in-person


Young Socialists

A-level results day 2020: Fight for our future!



GE Aviation workers march to save jobs



80 years since the murder of Leon Trotsky rally



Fighting to end racism and capitalism



Doncaster: Vigil for murdered women


The Socialist

The Socialist summer schedule



Unite union branch pledges to support socialist candidates who oppose cuts



Oppose BT site closures - national strike ballot needed



Sick pay victory at Homerton hospital!

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041



Alphabetical listing

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020