The first two months of 2015 have been a stressful time for retail and distribution workers. Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury's have all announced job cuts and/or store closures, while the Co-Operative is still reeling from its financial crisis last year. These companies are the 'big four' that make up the bulk of the Usdaw shop worker union's membership, with almost half of the union's 430,000 membership concentrated in Tesco.
Yet Usdaw Tesco members were kept in the dark about store closures, job cuts and pension cuts until they were announced in the media.
Socialist Party members standing in the Usdaw executive elections put a fighting response to the crisis in the main supermarkets to the fore of their election campaigns. This was a breath of fresh air compared with the union leadership's timid response, which many reps feel equates to Tesco saying 'jump' and the union asking 'how high?'
Socialist Party member Amy Murphy topped the poll to be re-elected in the Southern region with a whopping 2,263 votes - 559 votes more than last time on a turnout that was down by over 1,000. In the presidential election Amy finished a close second with 9,529 votes (45%).
Socialist Party member Scott Jones, standing for the first time in the South Wales and Western region, was just 113 votes short of winning a seat on 871 votes. Fellow Broad Left activist Sue Perridge also won a respectable 617 votes in the Eastern division.
These results should be a call to arms to the left in the union and any Usdaw member who wants to see a fighting union. There is a growing appetite among Usdaw members for a more militant union with a leadership that isn't attached to pro-big business New Labour and doesn't slavishly follow 'partnership' agreements with the employers.
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