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On a city centre Socialist newspaper sale last week, a young man approached me to buy a paper. I gave him a leaflet for the National Shop Stewards Network rally at the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in September too, explaining that the TUC represented all the unions.
He asked if that included Usdaw the shop workers' union, and I was pleasantly surprised that he knew about them.
He explained that he worked in a small shop, with only half a dozen workers, and that he'd been pushed around by his boss, so he had joined the union.
The union told him his treatment was illegal and offered to visit. "Someone called Michelle came in and shouted at him [the boss].
"Since then he's terrified of me and the union. If he asks me to do something, and I'm busy doing something else and I point that out, he says 'it's OK, no worries!'"
I told him one of our Socialist Party members, Amy Murphy, has been elected president of Usdaw, and that the Socialist Party had a newsletter for the union - the Activist. He gave me his email and I've sent him the links.
I was really heartened to hear a young worker who'd found that being in a union works.
Some might have thought abusers of workers' rights were left behind in the late 19th and early 20th century.
But as Cilla would say, "surprise surprise," they're alive and kicking here. While most ears and eyes are on Brexit and Trump, our dearly loved bosses are throwing thousands out of work here in Britain.
Not satisfied with making loads of money at our expense, bosses and governments continue to erode any protection workers have in the workplace.
They want to give our public services away and sell everything not nailed down, while presenting workers in Britain as cheap and amenable commodities.
This will lead to more maltreatment of workers. Already, workers can be summarily dismissed with almost no legal protection at any time before they reach the two-year full employment rights milestone.
It's an open invitation to all despotic bosses to treat workers according to their whims. It's an open invitation for bosses to say what they want, do what they want, whenever they want, knowing there will likely be no comeback because a worker has less than two years' service.
Trade unions should stand up and lead from the front because there's an avalanche of anger coming.
The following appeared in the Financial Times.
"Shareholder rebellions over high executive pay at the UK's largest companies have doubled this year, with companies from AstraZeneca to BT and Shell suffering big protest votes at their annual meetings.
"High pay has risen up the agenda for investors in the face of sustained public anger and criticism from politicians over big payouts for corporate bosses... the number of pay resolutions at FTSE 100 companies where at least 20 per cent of votes were against management was 18 by the end of July, compared with nine during the same period in 2017, according to a public register that tracks shareholder rebellions."
With the shareholders of our biggest companies making such an effective job of sharing out the fruits of other people's labour I wonder if us socialists can't all just take it easy and put our feet up!
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