Argos workers still solid after 3 week strike

Argos strikers show their support for McDonald’s strikers

Argos workers, members of Unite the Union, finished the 3 week period of strikes they’ve been engaging in over issues around relocation and redundancies today.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire organiser

In Castleford, this is a key issue as many of the workers have been long- term employees accruing a significant redundancy package if they were made redundant.  Their fear is that transferring their work to another site out of reasonable commuting distance would rob them of that security. 

Strikers were clear that of Argos won’t budge then there more than prepared to take further action. 

The strikers want to thank those who have sent support for them and concluded their picket line by taking a solidarity photo in support of the McDonald’s workers who are on strike for the first time today over working conditions, zero hour contracts and low pay.

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Argos Distrubution Workers Strike to Defend Job Security

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Unite pickets at Castleford Argos depot – photo Iain Dalton

Workers at four Argos distribution centres across the country, including the Castleford site, are taking 3 weeks of strike action to defend jobs and terms and conditions in the wake of the Sainsbury’s buying out Argos last year.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

The action has been prompted by the company’s decision to close their Magna Park site and transfer workers to Kettering, around 30 miles away.

Workers are concerned that further re-organisation could be coming in the distribution network, and although they have redeployment clauses in their contracts, they are seeking agreement about reasonable distances workers could be expect to be redeployed. They are also seeking agreed relocation and redundacy packages for any transfer beyond an agreed reasonable distance.

For the first week, support has remained strong amongst the 100+ permanent workers at the Castleford site. Despite management attempts to get workers from a neighbouring DHL-run Argos warehouse to cover the strikers workers, workers at that site, members of Usdaw, have correctly refused to do so.

In Argos stores as well, organised by Usdaw, there has also been concern about what the merger with Sainsbury’s means for staff with Argos stores located in close proximity to Sainsbury’s.

In a retail distribution sector which increasingly is dominated by contractors such as Wincanton, DHL Eddie Stobart and others, defence of in-house distribution networks, where the actual employer can be more directly held to account is vital. This is why workers at the Argos site in Barton are also seeking to join the other four sites as part of the bargaining group.

A victory in this dispute is important to send a message to those in the distribution sector that workers will not be pushed around and provide a basis for a push to ensure that distrubution contractors are organised on the same terms and conditions of in-house staff, or ideally brought back in-house.

Please send messages of support to paulaur.good@blueyonder.co.uk. Strike fund donations should be made payable to Unite the Union and sent to Paula Hutchinson, 37 Camden Road, Airedale, Castleford, WF10 3LY

Fujitsu workers strike for decent pay and job security

Unite pickets at Fujitsu office in Wakefield – photo Iain Dalton

Workers at Fujitsu Wakefield took part in their second day of strike action as part of the ongoing national dispute over job security, pensions, the living wage and union recognition.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

Fujitsu is cutting around 1800 UK jobs via offshoring, with some of these coming in as soon as March 20th, as part of its ‘Agenda 2020’ plans. This comes on top of a recent trustee decision which has retrospectively cut the pensions of over-60s which the company is refusing to negotiate compensation for.

Scandalously, the company has now said that all its workforce could be included in the scope of further redundancy execrises.

Reprinted in the leaflet being distributed by strikers on the picket line is a quote from a recent communication from Fujtsu CEO Lucy Dimes which states “If you do not recieve this notification [of being in scope] this does not necessarily mean your role is not affected by Agenda 2020 as there may be other areas of the business impacted as part of longer term projects.”

Unite members at Fujitsu are not taking this threat lying down and will be taking further strike action on the 24th and 27th March.

 

 

Mary Creagh should resign not remain

Hundreds of signatures have been collected by Wakefield Socialist Party and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition members calling for the resignation of Wakefield’s Labour MP Mary Creagh.
Mick Griffiths, Wakefield and Pontefract Socialist Party

She recently voted against triggering Article 50 to leave the EU. With a 66% vote to leave in Wakefield, she voted against the wishes of a clear majority of her constituents.

In just one week alone hundreds have signed our petition calling for her immediate resignation.

Throughout Europe workers have suffered cuts and austerity while banks have been bailed out. We intend to lobby our MP in the near future once we have amassed thousands more signatures in support.

Meanwhile, we have organised a public meeting to discuss a socialist Brexit programme on Thursday 9 March at 7.30pm at Black Rock, Wakefield.

Arriva Drivers Strike across West Yorkshire

Unite members picketing outside the Castleford depot - photo Iain Dalton

Unite members picketing outside the Castleford depot – photo Iain Dalton

Socialist Party members visited Unite picket lines at Wakefield, Castleford and Selby on Monday morning as workers for Arriva took strike action.

Not a single bus moved at Arriva’s Castleford depot as Unite members took part in a strike across the service in West Yorkshire. The 24-hour strike was taking place on both the issue of pay and driving hours, with Unite seeking a 20p an hour pay increase and a reduction in number of trips between breaks. A couple of young drivers talked of how they had to work for years before coming off the training rate. They also spoke of huge pressures on drivers over sick days, with many working while ill leading to more drivers coming down with illness and needing to take days off. The mood on the picket line was upbeat and determined. Yet despite the shutdown in the service, several workers felt they would need further action to force Arriva to meet their demands.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

Warm Reception for Corbyn and socialist ideas in Featherstone

Corbyn supporters at the rally in Featherstone - photo Iain Dalton

Corbyn supporters at the rally in Featherstone – photo Iain Dalton

On Saturday 10th September Jeremy Corbyn attended his 35th election rally within the last month, at Featherstone Rovers Rugby League ground. Several hundred gave him the obligatory standing ovations.

Mick Griffiths, Wakefield Socialist Party

Introductory speakers commented how it had been difficult to keep the faith with the Labour Party after the experiences of Blair, Brown and Miliband. However, Labour is now potentially back where it belongs, in the hands of the people.

A young recently new member asked the question, “Is it too much to want affordable housing, stable jobs, with decent wages, and free education for the future generations?”

Jon Trickett, Labour MP for the area, related back to the Featherstone Massacre of exactly 123 years ago, when miners were shot at for striking against pay cuts. Back then, Labour’s first MP, Keir Hardie, spoke at Featherstone and campaigned hard for the miners case.

It was raised that we face the same question today. Do we want a Labour Party led by socialists, fighting for a political voice of workers or yet again another set of pale Tory imitators?

Jeremy Corbyn said that the banking crisis was not caused by low paid cleaners in Yorkshire, it was caused by the greedy, poorly-regulated bankers. He said that we must, and will, offer something very different to the electorate. He went on to explain in full an alternative programme of good quality, full employment all over the country.

Corbyn summed up by saying Labour would eliminate all discrimination, come together with the people to work to defeat the Tories and create a UK society and world that is better for its peoples.

Socialist Party members were well received with a prominent stall outside the ground. We sold 84 copies of the Socialist and raised £35 for the fighting fund, as well as selling other literature including a copy of the ‘Rise of Militant’ book. Several young people expressed their interest in joining the Socialist Party.

Fast Food Rights march in Wakefield

Fast Food Right protest for £10 an hour minimum wage in Wakefield

Fast Food Right protest for £10 an hour minimum wage in Wakefield

Chants demanding £10 an hour minimum wage rang out through Wakefield city centre as activists from Baker’s, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ), National Shop Stewards Network took part in a demonstration to mark the #FastFood Global day of action.

Iain Dalton, Yorkshire YFJ Organiser
Over the last week we’ve visited fast food workplaces across Wakefield and nearby shopping centres where we’ve received an enthusiatic response. On the evening after the protest, a public meeting heard via Skype from a Fast Food worker in New York taking part in the strikes and gaining ideas from that of how to take the campaign forward locally.

Socialist Party member and new BFAWU activist, Tom commented “We’ve had a fanatastic few weeks of raising awareness of the BFAWU and it’s call for a £10 an hour minimum wage, and if we continue taking that message to local workplaces I’m confident we can build BFAWU among fast food workers in Wakefield.”