Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Support workers' action at Asda Wal-Mart depots

Reading: Local paper, James Joyce, BBC and Guardian websites, Guardian Comment Is Free Website, Urban 75 boards, Indymedia UK.
Listening: Mozart
Viewing: Flicked between France v Togo and South Korea v Switzerland in the World Cup.

Workers at Asda Wal-Mart depots in Britain have voted to take industrial action and deserve the support of the whole green, left/progressive and labour movements in their struggle against one of the worst union-busting and exploitative employers.

Union news release reprinted from Indymedia -

GMB Shop Stewards National Council agree programme of industrial action including an initial period of 5 consecutive days strike to be followed by comprehensive further industrial action

GMB Shop Stewards National Council meeting in Manchester today agreed a comprehensive programme of industrial action in Asda Wal-Mart's 20 distribution depots to secure their objectives. From 00.01 Friday 30th June until 23.59 Tuesday 4th July (Independence Day) there will be a complete withdrawal of labour by all GMB members in all Asda Wal-Mart depots. This will be followed by a further comprehensive programme of industrial action.

GMB members working in Asda Wal-Mart's 20 distribution depots across the country voted by 3 to 1 (74.1% in favour) to take strike action in support of their outstanding claims with the company. They also voted by an even bigger margin of more than 4 to 1 for industrial action short of a strike to secure their objectives.

GMB members who will take part in the industrial action work as HGV drivers and warehouse picker and loaders at Asda Wal-Mart 20 distribution depots including Bedford, Chepstow, Dartford, Didcot, Erith, Falkirk, Grangemouth, Ince George in Wigan, Lymedale Staffordshire, Lutterworth in Leicestershire, Portbury in Bristol, Skelmersdale, Teesport, ADC Wigan, Wakefield and Washington. They move 30,000 tonnes per day of ambient, fresh, chilled and frozen produce from 20 distribution depots to 300 Asda Wal-Mart Stores around the country.

GMB members in Asda Wal-Mart's distribution depots want to see the establishment of proper national bargaining structures between the company and GMB covering pay, conditions and union facilities in all 20 distribution depots.

Once established the first thing GMB members employed in the depots want is an agreement, via the new national negotiating structures, that Asda Wal-Mart pay the unpaid 2005 bonus of £300 per worker. The second issue GMB members in the depots want dealt with via the new national negotiating structures is an end to the unilateral introduction of new technology leading to higher work rates in the depots which health and safety experts say will seriously injury GMB members over a long period of time. (See Note 5). GMB members want an agreement that safe work rates are established by a panel of independent experts.

Phil Davies, GMB National Secretary said, "GMB members know full well that Asda Wal-Mart are gearing up to try to break this strike. This decision today to set a comprehensive programme of industrial action starting with the 5 days stoppage shows that GMB members are determined to win national collective bargaining rights which are common across British industry.

There appears to be a clear clash of cultures between the way workers do business in Britain and the way Wal-Mart does business. It is significant that the strike dates set by the Shop Stewards covers Independence Day. GMB members in Asda Wal-Mart want independence from the anti-trade union tactics of Wal-Mart worldwide.

GMB members spoke decisively yesterday. The Shop Stewards decision today shows they are prepared to follow it up with decisive action.

GMB will also step up the campaign against the agencies that we know are collaborating with Asda Wal-Mart to break this strike and GMB will use the full force of the law against them."

More from Derek Wall's blog - including Green support.

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