Walsall Reinstate Max protest including Max (centre)
Walsall Reinstate Max protest including Max (centre)

Socialist Party members in Usdaw

Usdaw shop workers’ union members and other trade unionists took to the streets from 12-19 March to leaflet Tesco customers and workers about the victimisation of Usdaw Tesco distribution shop steward Max McGee.

Max was victimised for just doing his duty as a trade unionist and socialist, not just standing up for workers in his distribution centre, but also for refusing to accept perks from management in an attempt to soften the attempts of the bosses to stop workers’ strength defending terms, conditions and safety.

Max has exhausted all internal appeal options within the company to keep his job and position as rep and branch secretary. Early conciliation has been tried through ACAS and was unsuccessful. However, Max is still waiting to hear whether Usdaw itself will take the Employment Tribunal case, some months after this was lodged.

It is vital when trade union reps are attacked that the union pulls out every stop to support them. Usdaw has lost over 50,000 members in the last few years, a trend that could increase if reps are allowed to be picked off one by one, leading to members losing confidence in the ability of the union to defend them.

The week of action was important in showing Tesco that there is support for Max among Usdaw members and the wider trade union movement, and the expectation that Usdaw should fully back Max.

Max is happy to speak at any trades council and union branch meetings to raise awareness and funds for his reinstatement campaign. During the week, Max spoke at Walsall TUC, which organised one of the protests, with them making a donation towards the campaign. More donations can be made at gofundme.com/f/reinstate-max-usdaw-rep-socialist

Protests took place outside Tesco HQ in Welwyn Garden City, by the National Shop Stewards Network and Stevenage TUC, and in Leeds, Walsall, Wakefield, Bedworth, Hackney, Plymouth, York, Glasgow, and Dundee. There was also support from Nipsa strikers in Northern Ireland, and from protesters outside the Tory party conference, organised by Blackpool TUC.

With Usdaw’s Annual Delegate Meeting fast approaching, Usdaw should cancel the social evening organised by Tesco for reps that takes place there, as part of a campaign of exerting pressure on Tesco until Max is reinstated, including fully taking on the Employment Tribunal case.