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Bulletin of Socialist Party members in

the Activist
increases), then they have a duty to provide information regarding what such a subs increase will be spent on. How can Usdaw branches debate the merits of such a rise when they only have half the picture - the monetary increase - rather than a picture of the finances necessary for our union.

Issue 44 June 2013

Where’s the AO’s John?
As reported in the latest issue of Arena (Usdaw’s members magazine), at this year’s ADM, Usdaw General Secretary, John Hannett, promised an extra Area Organiser (AO) for each of the Usdaw’s seven divisions. During his speech arguing in favour of the recent subs increase, he promised that he would advertise the jobs the following Monday after ADM One month later there is no sign of them still, no adverts for vacancies for AO’s have appeared. Reps will rightly demand to know why this is the case. Moreover, from the lack of information about this then it seems likely that this idea wasn;t even discussed on the unions highest body outside of conference, the Executive Council that proposed the increase.

Often when delegates at ADM propose initiatives, then we are told we haven’t the money. Usdaw calls itself ‘The Campaigning Why is it one rule for Hannett Union’ but where’s the support for and another for the rest of us.
reps to effectively be that?

We need a democratic accountable union, where we the members direct the

resources to where we need to fight to defend our interests.

It seems like every year that John Hannett makes the claim that under his leadership there are more Area Organiser’s than before he started as General Secretary. Well, let’s see if the members get the back-up the are entitled to certainly with the increase of members.

The Activist believes that when In 2002, the membership totalled 321,151 and in 2012 had the Executive proposes increased to 425,363 giving the us a total increase of 104,212 changes to S1 (subs new members. There were 118 full-time officials working in the divisions that means there were 2,722 members to every divisional official.
7th annual conference takes place on Saturday 9th June, Camden Centre, 38 Bidborough St, London - 11am-4pm Speakers include: Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary; Billy Heyes, CWU General Secretary; and Steve Gillan, POA General Secretary See for info

In 2012 and with over 100,000 extra members, there are only 111 officials in the divisions. There are now 3,832 members to each official. If we use the 2002 membership figure and the then ratio of officials to members, there should be an extra 38 officials already working in the divisions and not just the seven promised.

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Bulletin of Socialist Party members in USDAW

Come to the 7th NSSN Conference
Over the past year and a half, the Activist has been to the fore in raising the need for a militant strategy in Usdaw to fight for our members and the need to link up with other unions in co-ordinated action, a general strike, to force this government and their cuts agenda out. contribution that union membership in employers. the private sector is insufficient for this type of action. Who would doubt that mass strike action, properly built for, wouldn't Incredibly they claim: "Usdaw members appeal to low-paid and super-exploited are concerned about pay and job workers in the retail industry? Already security and would be very unlikely to with 400,000 members, Usdaw could, support a general strike." Not that the under these conditions, be filled out and On 29th June the National Shop Usdaw leadership is likely to ask could realise its potential to play a Stewards Network (NSSN) will meet for members' opinion. And remember this is pivotal role in the massive its 7th annual conference (details on in a context of mass job losses in retail! supermarkets.” page 1). This will be an opportunity to discuss with other union reps and Actually Usdaw members don't live in a Below we include two comments we community activists the attacks facing bubble but are the husbands, wives, have received regarding previous articles working class people and how to children, friends and neighbours of appearing in the Activist on this subject. respond. public sector workers. It will also serve as a forum to discuss where we are in the fight for the coordinated action we desperately need. We urge Usdaw members to attend. In a recent article for the Socialist, NSSN chair Rob Williams commented about Usdaw’s submission to the TUC general council: “Usdaw's leadership... complain in their We've already seen over the last year significant private sector disputes flare up all over the country which indicate that the sights and sounds of public sector workers fighting back has again legitimised the idea that workers can challenge
Part of the 1,000 strong lobby of 2012 TUC in Brighton organised by the NSSN to call for a general strike

Whilst I wholeheartedly support what you are saying, the problem is that some Unions are becoming businesses. In my Union, Usdaw, all you hear is recruitment, recruitment, recruitment isn’t it about looking after the members you already have? The need to fight this coalition is important and ALL Unions should stand up and be counted including USDAW, a strong Union is an attractive one to join a weak Union is seen as well weak. But when we get shut of this lot who takes over? Labour? Thanks to the Unions who voted for him as leader Milliband is more of a damp squib than a Red Ed. He has the charisma of a used match and personality to match. The Unions need to make the wet labour party get back to its roots and look after the working class of the country and become the Labour Party I joined and loved. To all General Secs, someone once said that “I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” WHO ARE LEADING US, LIONS OR SHEEP?

I am a Tesco worker and have been a member of Usdaw for some time. I personally feel betrayed by the union as it sides with Tesco time and time again. All too often do I hear ‘for the needs of business’ when the union should be fighting for the needs of it’s members. Allowing a company to tear up contracted hour’s and turn workers lives upside down with totally altered shift patterns defeats the point of a contract. Rather than treating existing staff with contempt and disrespect expecting us to do two jobs at once, they should adequately man their stores (on proper contracts! the new flexi contracts are an insult. Another issue on which usdaw sold out to tesco) On the national strike issue I would be more than willing to stand side by side with other unions in solidarity against an uncaring tory government. Good luck getting usdaw to actually listen to its members. I don’t hold out much hope.

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Bulletin of Socialist Party members in USDAW

Sacked Tesco drivers on the march again
Around 100 of the Tesco drivers sacked earlier this year and their families marched through Doncaster on Saturday with their red Unite flags waving. Senior steward Trev Cheetham said: "Tesco management betrayed the loyal workforce, some with 20 years loyal service, by throwing them to Eddie Stobarts".

They handed out leaflets, asking This meant the drivers lost their shoppers to boycott the store and pension scheme and other benefits demanding that Tesco gives them their and after one month at Stobarts they jobs back. were told that they were to be replaced by other drivers on less pay and worse conditions. They then handed out their "Every Sacking Helps..." leaflets at the doors and car park entrances of the Tesco All this while Tesco made £3.8 billion store in Doncaster. in profit and paid their highest paid director over £1.6 million.

Steve Scholey, a driver and shop steward with 12 years' service commented: "Tesco said one of the Trev added: "Many reasons they had carried out this have still not found action was because they were worried new jobs after being about CO2 emissions, but workers thrown on the dole were being bussed in from other and are now living depots and supplied by agencies to on £70 a week ... meet the workload, so it was really We will continue the about getting cheap labour". protests!"

Letter - Farewell to retail jobs
A friend who works in a local high street shop commented to me about the number of people dropping of CVs in a hope of being offered some work and how desperate and demoralised many looked when they handed over the form. She accepts their applications and tells them the manager will let them know when a vacancy occurs. The manager throws them in the bin. number of UK retail stores will drop from 281,930 to 220,000. Resulting in whopping job loses of over 316,000.

corporate taxes last year on sales of £4.3bn, a rate of less than 0.1%.

According to a parliamentary committee of MPs who are examining this scandal of the lack of company taxation described Even more of these CVs will find the situation as a ‘joke’. Of course there way into bins. this is hot air, they won’t really change anything but why action The problem is the fall in now. This fiddle has been known consumer spending going to high about for decades, After all it is street stores. It was 50% in 2000 the capitalist system and their and is predicted to drop to 40.2% only responsibility is to make the by next year, according again to rich even richer. According to the elite’s the CRR. The sales are going to government, these are the the online retail companies and Something must change. The scroungers of our society. will reach 21.5% of all retail sales Activist advocates that the large by 2018. retail companies both on the high If things are bad now then it about street and online should be taken to get worse. Low-paid retail jobs Of course many of these online into public ownership and with it are under threat. The Centre for companies don't pay their share control and managed by working Retail Research (CRR) reckons of taxes. A good example of this people. Our responsibility would that over the next five years, the is Amazon UK who paid £2.4m in be to improve life for all of us.
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Bulletin of Socialist Party members in USDAW

Who’s to Blame for Rani Plaza catastrophe?
Many Usdaw members will have been horrified by the tragic collapse of the Rani Plaza building which housed textile workers who produce clothing for numerous high street companies including Primark. The disaster is a result of the exporting of textile production around the world to lower wage economies to boost the profits of the bosses. As wages were cut, ruthless bosses tried to cut other costs, including on issues of health and safety as the disaster has evidenced. A recent TUC document ‘What Price Cheap Clothing?’ opposes these conditions and argues that they do not need to be tolerated to maintain cheap clothing. The briefing points out that only 2p of a n item of clothing sold for £6 would go to the worker who made it. The resources are clearly there to increase wages (the TUC suggests 1000%). Yet the Activist cannot we agree with the TUC’s argument that clothing prices should increase to pay for this. As the report states, companies have massively their profits by exploiting these workers. We say they should pay from their profits. For example Primark’s profits went up by 24% in the last year.

Workfare protestors in Primark

Moreover its not just workers in Bangladesh and other low wage economies who are exploited. Although on a different scale, workers in Primark stores don’t even get paid a living wage either.

Like so many others at Primark, I had intended for this to be merely a temporary position, a springboard to help propel me onto Recently we were given the chance something more fulfilling, but the stress and anxiety that has built up to fill out an employee survey to since my first day has felt like a inform our bosses of our experiences in our time working at weight holding me back. Primark. I know I shouldn't feel stressed about a job that means so little but One question was along the lines no one wants to feel like the effort of: 'Do you feel proud of working they put in is meaningless and I for Primark?' No. work hard at a thankless job. No, I don't feel proud of working The store is organised into various somewhere that makes obscene profits and yet pays me less than I self-explanatory departments and yet if one person is away from one need to pay rent. department, whether sick or on No, I don't feel proud to work at a organised holiday, it is often the place in which people younger than case that the rest of the workers in the department have to pick up the me get paid even less despite slack without cover to help. doing the same job.

A day in the life of a Primark employee

come from it. The survey itself consisted of simple multiple choice questions but the comments section at the end allowed us a chance to express our issues. I probably wrote the most that I've written since my university dissertation! I told them of my irritation that I requested more hours to help with my finances and yet they instead decided to hire more workers on temporary, part-time contracts. I wrote about how it was ridiculous that a store that makes the profits it does can't give its employees a discount beyond the two weeks before Christmas.

Simply put, I don't think that those working in Primark get the respect No, I don't feel proud of working in Sometimes I have to essentially do or reward that they deserve. a place that made me buy my own the work of two people. It's bad I don't live in the hellish conditions uniform, structures my contract to enough being forced to do the work of one person in Primark. of those who make the clothes I avoid paying me overtime pay, end up selling, but Primark does doesn't make me feel a part of a I utilised the survey to vent some just as much to make my working welcoming, happy environment experience a monstrous hell of my despite telling me to be welcoming of my frustrations, assuming that none of my anger would be taken own. and happy to anyone who comes into account and no change would into the store.
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Bulletin of Socialist Party members in USDAW

Amazon workers in Germany strike over pay and conditions
On 14 May, 1,100 employees of Amazon Deutschland came out on a one-day strike at three out of seven sites in Germany. recruitment, but pays towards the costs. The fact that most workers are employed on The strikers demanded that temporary Amazon accepts and applies the contracts, some conditions that exist elsewhere in of which are the German retail and mail order sector which were agreed between extended over a the employers’ federation and the period of more than two years, Ver.di union. According to the makes people German service sector union Ver.di, if Amazon paid these union- feel very insecure. Some agreed rates Amazon workers of the strikers would receive about 9,000 euros more a year through higher hourly reported that they had even heard Hitler’s deputy, it used to “police” of one day employment contracts. the hostels and hotels where its rates, incremental payments, foreign workers lived after it was holiday and Christmas pay. exposed on television how these This makes the decision to go on “security personnel” harassed the strike all the more remarkable, One outraged worker explained: migrant workers while dressed in "For 5 years Amazon had not paid 97.6% of union members at Thor Steinar clothing associated Amazon voted to strike. They a single wage increase here in Bad Hersfeld“, adding that it was “only turned out to stand defiantly at the with the German far right. gates, all kitted out in the union’s when Ver.di came and we began typical strike gear: Ver.di highAdditionally some other factors to organise, did we see any pay visibility jacket, whistle, flag and have dented Amazon’s reputation, increases.” an umbrella. not least the millions of subsidies that it has received from German Strike leader Heiner Reimann told taxpayers at the same as it was Low pay is not the only thing on reporters: “Amazon bases its pay setting up a holding company in the list of workers’ grievances; structure on earning levels in a Luxemburg and paying tax at low Amazon staff also cite the region and then adds 3 cents so rates in the Netherlands. disrespectful, harsh treatment it’s paying above the local meted out by management and average”. poor working conditions. Kilometre The “Amazons” are now -long aisles (stock pickers will walk demanding more respect and Significantly, Amazon invariably locates in less affluent, structurally 25 km on an average day), and the better working conditions from their employer. The first day of weak regions and then mops up all lack of proper air-conditioning, the labour - from jobless people on mean that workers often pass out strike action was seen as a on hot days. Then there’s the rehearsal for a full-scale strike Hartz IV (drastically reduced constant supervision: anyone which could last for months. The benefits paid after 12 months union ver.di is striving to build a unemployment) to older people on pausing for too long will be instructed via hand scanner to base and force concessions from the cusp of pension age. market leader Amazon, failure resume work. would set a bad precedent. A recent television documentary The long distances walked and showed how Amazon has started time-consuming waits at the hiring workers from crisis hit security checks all encroach on countries like Spain. As can be expected, these people are pleased staff break times. Earlier this year Amazon had to sack HESS, a to have found any work and the private security company whose government Labour Office (job name was an allusion to Adolf centre) not only facilitates
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Bulletin of Socialist Party members in USDAW

Tesco Pay Review: Inching Closer to a Living Wage?
Recently we have seen the results of Tesco's annual pay review. After negotiations between Tesco and Usdaw there will be a 2% increase on the core award, meaning that an established general worker in Tesco will earn £7.28 per hour across all formats from the 30th June. Despite this being keeping pace with last year's increase, at a time when Tesco have had poor results, the increase is still below inflation. The pay review also included improved maternity pay and leave and an increase in the cap on the amount of discount Tesco w o r k e r s r e c e i v e . organised supermarkets, such as Morrisons and the Co-op (reflecting Usdaw's larger membership in Tesco) it still falls short of a living wage, which is calculated at £7.45 outside of London. Tesco of course could afford to pay this, despite the current economic climate, it would cost only 2% of turnover to do so.
This image produced for a campaign

Following a proposition passed about workfare is as true for the situaat this years ADM, Usdaw are tion facing Tesco staff who still aren’t paid a living wage now committed to campaigning for and negotiating with Morrisons, then ballots take employers to implement a living place on the results of the wage, this should now be the negotiations each year. By minimum demand that Usdaw voting no to below inflation pay take to negotiations with Tesco rises workers can put pressure and other companies next year o n t h e i r c o m p a n y a n d to ensure. Pressure must be negotiators to fight for more. applied to officials and Tesco workers deserve the negotiating bodies to follow same option and we need to through on this. fight to see such a ballot Whilst these increases are more returned to Tesco workers. than some other Usdaw I n c o m p a n i e s s u c h a s

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