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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 March 2020

Supermarkets are ruled by profit - unions should control supply limits

Empty supermarket shelves, photo

Empty supermarket shelves, photo   (Click to enlarge)

Scott Jones, Usdaw union member (personal capacity)

Many shop and supermarket shelves are being stripped of hand wash, toilet rolls and some food lines such as dry pasta, as people panic buy and stockpile because of coronavirus.

Under pressure to do something about this, some retailers have put limits on the amount of certain items that shoppers can buy. Tesco has put a quantity limit of five on antibacterial gels, wipes and sprays, dry pasta, UHT milk and some tinned vegetables. Others have limited hand sanitiser to two bottles per person.

For now, this is welcome. When I worked for Tesco in Wales and the local area had bad snow, the traditional rush for milk and bread took place. It meant many people couldn't buy any themselves.

Concerned, staff proposed a solution of limiting the amount individuals could buy. As the trade union shop steward I took the suggestion to management, but was told it wasn't really in the company's interest - that interest being profit. Therefore, we can't rely on the bosses to manage distribution of essential goods.

Guarantee access

To control and combat Covid-19 it's vital that everybody has access to washing products, basics like toilet roll, and of course food. Especially as those who can least afford to stockpile, and are worst hit by panic shortages, are workers on the lowest incomes with little cash and time.

The government has put its full trust in retail bosses, with Tory minister Oliver Dowden saying "we are confident that supermarkets have the supply chains necessary to keep shelves stocked for people."

He's clearly never worked in a supermarket! Supply chains work on a very short-term basis, and a few days' interruption to deliveries could leave stores empty of essential goods.

Usdaw and other shop workers' unions should immediately convene democratic meetings of union reps from stores and distribution centres, alongside representatives of local shop customers. The unions should demand a say in how the sale and distribution of goods is controlled, and consider direct action if the situation worsens.

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The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

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In The Socialist 11 March 2020:


Coronavirus

Coronavirus: Full NHS funding now

Coronavirus infects the world economy

Flybe collapse: nationalise to save jobs threatened by Covid-19 and downturn

Coronavirus: international cooperation needed, not capitalist competition

Supermarkets are ruled by profit - unions should control supply limits

For full pay during isolation: for public health as well as workers' wallets

Self-isolation patients speak: NHS facilities and advice not up to it

Italy on lockdown: lack of resources and democracy causes panic

South Korea shows capitalism has money to respond to coronavirus

Coronavirus news in brief


News

Domestic Violence bill: We still need to fight to save our services

News in brief


Workplace news

Postal workers mobilise to win strike reballot

Homerton Hospital workers fight for sick pay

Fighting to transform the union in my warehouse

Argos workers in Sainsbury's stores threatened with losing collective bargaining

Homeless charity workers to strike against intransigent management

Southampton trade unionists say "defend the right to strike!"

Strong support for PCS Broad Left Network

East London uni and bin worker strikes


US election

How can Trump be ousted from the White House?


Campaigns and party news

Salford 'no-cuts' budget includes cuts and tax rises

Stoke council unions beat pay cuts - now let's stop all cuts

Is there an anti-cuts rebellion in Scotland?

Socialist Party joins International Women's Day protests

Housing workers explain reality to idiot Boris Johnson

Swansea: Ask anyone about state of services, you will hear the real story

Camarthenshire: Councillors' 'walk of shame'

Student occupation in support of striking workers

Selling the Socialist

Socialist Party executive committee positions


International news

Greece-Turkey border refugee crisis


Women's and trans rights

Women's rights, trans rights and the labour movement


Readers' opinion

Film: Greed directed by Michael Winterbottom

Childcare - costly, inadequate and hard work

Book: Why you should be a trade unionist by Unite general secretary Len McCluskey

The Socialist Inbox


 

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