This piece first appeared on the Activist a few weeks ago. As a shop worker myself I would urge any member sof USDAW who visit this site to vote for Robbie in the union General Secretary Election that is happening at the moment.
Last week staff at Morrisons were voting over whether to accept a pay deal negotiated by the union. That is if they knew about the ballot at all. Okay so we had a poster in store saying there was a pay ballot, but if you have only started at the company within the last year (like majority of the staff, at least 5% of the staff are replenished each month) and you don’t know that much about unions you probably won’t realise you are of the people who has a vote. Even for someone who is slightly more clued up like myself, I had to wait until the day after to vote as the personnel office where the ballot box is was closed.
A Morrisons worker
The terms of the deal are even harder to find out. A conversation with our union rep led to me finding out that the deal would probably mean an increase of £5 a week in our pay with our wage going up to £6 an hour in February next year. Considering that most workers at Morrisons earn 4p above minimum wage, there perhaps is a sense of at least this is going in the right direction a bit.
Later I found out more about the offer, but not from the union website which I looked at first and found absolutely nothing about the offer. Rather it was from an unofficial staff forum that I finally found out that with the deal pay will go up to £5.86 in October (when the minimum wage goes up to £5.73) and then £6 in February.Whilst this increase means that we will be an extra 20p an hour above the minimum wage in February next year it still means our pay will be very low, far below the European Decency threshold which stands at £8 an hour.
Furthermore, with inflation soaring this increase is likely to be swept away very quickly. Given the £612 million pre-tax profits Morrisons made last year, the surely much more could have been fought for?The lacklustre approach of the union leadership in relation to this is indicative of a great number of other problems Morrisons workers face and the union fails to take action over.
One of the biggest problems is understaffing which means that workers effectively have to do the jobs of two or more people, unsurprisingly this leads to accidents and taking short-cuts with health and safety. My department alone has at least one accident a day if not more!
John Hannett (USDAW General Secretary) gets £100,000 a year salary plus a free Jaguar – I wonder how closely he feels the pains that the members he is supposed to represent have to endure. What we need is a leadership prepared to fight, if they took the pitifully low wage we have to accept then their might be a fight for a minimum wage of £8 for all retail workers. Such a demand is in Robbie Segal’s programme as she stands against Hannett in the General Secreatry elections, which is why I shall be building her campaign in my store.
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