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17 December 2010
Workers at Heinz strike in Wigan
Twelve hundred Heinz workers struck for 24 hours at the heart of operations of the company in Wigan, Lancashire.
Hugh Caffrey, North West Socialist Party
These workers in the Unite union are demanding fair pay and plan further action should management remain intransigent.
Heinz is a super-profitable $10 billion multinational which, like much of the private sector, has accumulated bags of cash for its bosses during the recession.
Meanwhile workers' wages are ground down by inflation and investment is neglected. "Smart" financial trickery netted one boss £12 million.
Yet workers are offered a maximum of 3.3%. Real inflation is running at 4.7% according to the Retail Prices Index. Even the government-favoured inflation measure, CPI, is at 3.3%.
Workers' real wages are falling, chewed up by the rising cost of living even in the recession.
This is why Unite members walked out on 15-16 December, bringing the factory to a complete halt.
Pickets on all the factory entrances were supported by a large demonstration of workers outside the main gates.
Unite members spoke of the regime of bullying and intimidation inside the factory, with one worker returning from time taken off sick to cope with bereavement greeted by a disciplinary notice from the employers.
When management turned off the lights above the main gates, leaving pickets in the dark, this was met with derisory laughter from workers who have no intention of being intimidated by these petty tricks.
Impressively, almost 90% voted in favour of strike action.
The 95% vote for action short of strike is enforcing a solid overtime ban and work-to-contract.
Ian Wright, Unite convenor, said that employers nationally and internationally are watching whether Heinz can impose a real-terms pay cut.
Ian explained therefore how important it is that Heinz workers win the dispute and cut across a 'race to the bottom' in food manufacturing wages.
The next strike day will be Tuesday 21 December for 24 hours from 6am.
Further action between Christmas and New Year's Day may be necessary.
Send messages of support to email@example.com.
Can your union branch or organisation make a donation to help fund the workers' struggle? Contact Ian for details of payment.
To make global protests to the company, see the details below.
Please copy messages of protest to Ian so that workers can see the support they are receiving.
Nigel Dickie, 020 8848 2726 Nigel.Dickie@uk.hjheinz.com
Michael Mullen 412-456-5751 Michael.Mullen@us.hjheinz.com
Heinz World Headquarters P.O. Box 57 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230, USA
Jessica Jackson, 412-237-3562 Jessica.Jackson@us.hjheinz.com
Tracey Parsons , 412-237-5774 Tracey.Parsons@us.hjheinz.com
Joan Patterson, 416-226-7587 Joan.Patterson@ca.hjheinz.com
Mexico / Venezuela -
Antonio Nunez, +58 212-909-1811 MediaContact@heinz.com.ve
Katarzyna Gospodarek, + 48 (0) 22 567 2150, Katarzyna.Gospodarek@pl.hjheinz.com
Antonio Cartolari, +39 02 5256 2357 Antonio.Cartolari@it.hjheinz.com
Peter Boterman, +31 30 697 Peter.Boterman@nl.hjheinz.com
Hein Kroft, +31 30 697 3606 Hein.Kroft@nl.hjheinz.com
Jessica Ramsden, +61 3 9861 5015, Jessica.Ramsden@au.hjheinz.com
Alice Wang, +(8620)8770-6218, Alice.Wang@cn.hjheinz.com
Akemi Tahara, +81 3 5687 7513, Akemi.Tahara@jp.hjheinz.com
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: 07748 534 891
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