All Campaigns subcategories:
Supermarkets are ruled by profit - unions should control supply limits
Scott Jones, Usdaw union member (personal capacity)
Many shop and supermarket shelves are being stripped of hand wash, toilet rolls and some food lines such as dry pasta, as people panic buy and stockpile because of coronavirus.
Under pressure to do something about this, some retailers have put limits on the amount of certain items that shoppers can buy. Tesco has put a quantity limit of five on antibacterial gels, wipes and sprays, dry pasta, UHT milk and some tinned vegetables. Others have limited hand sanitiser to two bottles per person.
For now, this is welcome. When I worked for Tesco in Wales and the local area had bad snow, the traditional rush for milk and bread took place. It meant many people couldn't buy any themselves.
Concerned, staff proposed a solution of limiting the amount individuals could buy. As the trade union shop steward I took the suggestion to management, but was told it wasn't really in the company's interest - that interest being profit. Therefore, we can't rely on the bosses to manage distribution of essential goods.
To control and combat Covid-19 it's vital that everybody has access to washing products, basics like toilet roll, and of course food. Especially as those who can least afford to stockpile, and are worst hit by panic shortages, are workers on the lowest incomes with little cash and time.
The government has put its full trust in retail bosses, with Tory minister Oliver Dowden saying "we are confident that supermarkets have the supply chains necessary to keep shelves stocked for people."
He's clearly never worked in a supermarket! Supply chains work on a very short-term basis, and a few days' interruption to deliveries could leave stores empty of essential goods.
Usdaw and other shop workers' unions should immediately convene democratic meetings of union reps from stores and distribution centres, alongside representatives of local shop customers. The unions should demand a say in how the sale and distribution of goods is controlled, and consider direct action if the situation worsens.
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