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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 June 2021

Douwe Egberts workers strike against pay cuts of up to 12,000 a year

photo Paul Tovey

photo Paul Tovey   (Click to enlarge)

Katie Simpson, Northampton Socialist Party

Socialist Party members witnessed an incredible atmosphere of solidarity visiting the Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE) factory picket line in Banbury on 5 June. Unite the Union has stood firm against the company's 'fire and rehire' tactics, achieving an 86% turnout in favour of a further four strike days in June.

Despite lockdown seeing a massive surge in profits for the coffee and tea industry, as more and more people brew from home, JDE is using 'fire and rehire' tactics in a brazen attempt to increase profit margins. For many years, Unite has negotiated good wages and conditions for the factory workers. Most of the staff we spoke to had worked in the factory more than 20 years. They enjoy their jobs and continued working during lockdown.

Yet it is those on the frontline, on hourly pay, who are facing annual pay cuts and contract changes. Some of the workers are facing yearly wage losses between 8,000 and 12,000! Many are having their pension plans torn up, and the factory is targeting women workers in particular, with dramatic changes to their contracts including night and weekend shifts.

Women workers who have family commitments are being told to accept the new terms or face dismissal. Workers reported being told to sell their homes if they cannot afford to pay their mortgages on these new terms.

Those on the picket line reported being filmed by management who have already dismissed one union activist. As numerous cars honked and drivers raised their fists as they passed, one long-term employee told us: "After 60 years of fantastic negotiations between Unite and the company, the factory has been thrown into its darkest days by corporate gangsters."

Open the books

JDE spokespeople have claimed that the Banbury factory needs to 'modernise' and is 'uncompetitive.' When factory workers spoke with other factories in Germany, France and the Netherlands, they were all being sold the same mantra. Yet the bosses have refused to open the books and have any meaningful dialogue with the factory workers.

Publicly, the company is boasting that 50% of the staff at the factory will have pay increases. One worker on the picket line pointed out that some of these increases are as little as 40 a year, and many are only seeing higher wages because they are being forced to work more hours.

Significantly, the factory is doubling the number of management positions, and bosses already taking six-figure salaries will be seeing wage increases and bonuses of as much as 12,000.

The well-unionised workforce is not buying the arguments of the bosses and see these tactics for what they are - pure greed.

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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.
  • 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.
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In The Socialist 9 June 2021:


News

G7 tax deal won't challenge corporate power

Dea-John Reid murder: Jobs, homes and services, not racism

Tory school catch-up plan: Fight for the funding our schools and colleges need

Post-Brexit trade deals: Workers' mobilisation needed to stop corporate extortion

G7 green hypocrisy

New book - coming soon: The Struggle for World Socialism

G7 Can't solve poverty, Covid and climate change - join the struggle for Socialism


What we think

Tory splits and infighting growing


NHS

'Let's fight to win on NHS pay and funding'

We're building for 3 July NHS protests


Workplace news

Goodlord striker speaks out: How we unionised and fought the bosses

Revolt against 'social partnership' at Wales Trades Union Congress 2021

Douwe Egberts workers strike against pay cuts of up to 12,000 a year

London workers prepare to fight Khan's transport cuts

If unions give a lead, workers are fully prepared to fight and win victories

Fight for a socialist leadership in PCS, build a fighting, democratic union!

Workplace news in brief


Lessons from history

The 1971 Upper Clyde Shipbuilders occupation and work-in


Campaigns news

Cladding safety: Protests demand developers and government pay

"Rights are won not given" - London refugee wins housing debt campaign

Hundreds march to scrap Silvertown Tunnel project

Shame on Clarion - another exploitative landlord


Israel/Palestine

Palestinian self-determination - is the solution one state or two?


Readers' opinion

TV review: Mrs Thatcher vs the miners

Readers' Opinion


 

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