Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1082/30612
From The Socialist newspaper, 15 April 2020
Usdaw shop workers' union activists meet via Zoom
Usdaw members on the TUC march, 12.5.18, photo David Owens (Click to enlarge)
Iain Dalton, Socialist Party Usdaw caucus convenor
Following weekly virtual meetings of Socialist Party members in Usdaw the shop workers' union to discuss the rapidly changing situation in retail, and producing several special issues of our bulletin, the Activist, we decided to hold a virtual public meeting on 11 April to take these discussions to a wider audience.
Ryan Aldred, Plymouth and District Usdaw branch secretary, introduced the meeting, highlighting some of the key issues from the retail workers' charter drawn up and published in the Activist.
Ryan commented that many workers in 'non-essential' retail will be worried about how long their companies can survive, with Debenhams being one of the big names going into administration. He highlighted how Usdaw should be championing the demand it adopted after the collapse of BHS, that such companies should be brought into public ownership to save jobs.
Usdaw President, Amy Murphy spoke about the varying levels to which local supermarket management have implemented social distancing policy. While some stores are adhering to all measures, and letting only a limited number of people into the store, Amy reported being contacted earlier that day by Tesco workers in a store where the manager had decided to let into the store as many people as possible to boost his sales over Easter.
Amy also reported that Tesco management has tried to bring in screens between checkouts to enable stores to bring all checkouts online, rather than just every other checkout. In her store, agreements have been made jointly with management to stick to just opening every other checkout, due to workers feeling that if screens were installed they would be unsafe because workers would be less than two metres away from each other.
It will be important for Usdaw members and reps to be vigilant that safety measures aren't loosened prematurely.
No going back
The meeting was attended by workers from Tesco, Sainsbury, Morrisons, Co-op and B&M Bargains among others. Several people commented on the improved sick pay and hazard pay that companies had been forced to concede, but also stressed the need to ensure we don't go back to the way it was once this emergency is over.
In concluding, Ryan stressed the need to reach out to workers and draw them into the union and help them organise.
His branch will be holding an online meeting in the next few weeks to do this, and he urged attendees to encourage their branches to do the same, so we can discuss the new issues facing retail workers in this crisis.
Donate to the Socialist Party
Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal
The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.
The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.
The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.
- The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
- Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
- When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.
In The Socialist 15 April 2020:
MPs get £10k each for lockdown expenses - where's ours?
Dispatches from the front: NHS staff say give us PPE, not medals!
Johnson's hospitalisation: a tale of two treatments
Big pharma's profiteering holds back drug supply
Lockdown increases domestic violence calls - Tory money a drop in the ocean
NHS nurse: we're not wasting PPE - the Tories don't value us
Rapacious capitalism and the spread of coronavirus
What we think
Exit strategy? PPE and mass testing and workers' control of workplace safety
Fight back against the corona propaganda war
London Transport workers fighting private companies and TfL to secure health and safety
Unite opposes all cuts to domestic violence services
Passport workers forced back to offices as Home Office shirks its duty of care
Collectively demanding safe warehouse working conditions
Usdaw shop workers' union activists meet via Zoom
Coronavirus workplace news in brief
Sabotage - the inner workings of Labour's political machine exposed
Plymouth students discuss rent strike
Final push for May Day greetings
Socialist Party coronavirus crisis finance appeal
Join an online Socialist Party meeting during lockdown
The Socialist Party and socialist ideas are growing
Lessons from history
How the catastrophe of WW1 sparked revolution
Going viral: Socialist comments on the corona crisis
The Socialist 15 April 2020 |
Join the Socialist
| Audio | PDF | ebook