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From: The Socialist issue 1027, 30 January 2019: Austerity out, Tories out

Search site for keywords: Tesco - Usdaw - Union - Jobs - Workers - Supermarket - Wages - Retail

Tesco changes threaten thousands of jobs - Usdaw union must fight!

Usdaw members on the march, 12.5.18, photo David Owens

Usdaw members on the march, 12.5.18, photo David Owens   (Click to enlarge)

Connor Rosoman, Usdaw shop steward (personal capacity)

Tesco has revealed plans to cut thousands of jobs as part of a new restructuring initiative. The cost cutting measures include removing counters in some stores, overhauling stock control and scrapping hot food provision in staff canteens.

Shamefully, workers first heard about the changes in the press with stories of job losses of 15,000 reported. Tesco CEO Jason Tarry has now written to staff saying the changes would affect 9,000 workers, with "up to half" of these potentially being redeployed in other roles.

This is still a major change, and Tesco workers will rightly be nervous about the news. This is the latest in a series of 'streamlining' processes among British supermarkets. Tesco has already cut 10,000 jobs through not replacing workers when they leave.

Waitrose and Sainsbury's have recently gone through similar shake-ups to the one planned in Tesco. In reality, it has meant putting more pressure on workers.

As a result of stagnating wages and a rising cost of living, consumer spending has been low. For the supermarket bosses, this means less profit, and they expect their workers to shoulder the effects of this.

Usdaw, the shop workers union, must act to protect jobs and conditions. Last year saw strikes by McDonald's and JD Wetherspoon workers as well as by Tesco workers in Ireland, which shows the potential there is for similarly low-paid supermarket staff in Britain to take action.

Tesco workers could also link up with customers who will be angry at losing in-store services. Usdaw should call public meetings to win support for the fight against these cuts.

Ultimately, it's only on the basis of public ownership and democratic control can jobs be protected from the pressures of the market.

Amy Murphy, Usdaw union president and Tesco worker, spoke to the Socialist (in a personal capacity):

New Usdaw president, Socialist Party member Amy Murphy, photo Mary Finch

New Usdaw president, Socialist Party member Amy Murphy, photo Mary Finch   (Click to enlarge)

"Staff at Tesco are shocked and devastated by the announcement of so many job losses. Retail is under pressure but Tesco still makes over a billion in profit and staff played the crucial role in ensuring a good Christmas for Tesco.

"Usdaw calls on Tesco to explain the reasons behind these changes and, along with Unite the Union which represents some Tesco distribution workers, we should fight every job loss and cut.

"This should be linked to our 'Time for Better Pay' campaign for 10 an hour now and better conditions and contracts."

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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.

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