Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/218/9156
Fighting For Decent Pay And Union Rights
HERE IN Cambridge an aggressively expanding global company notorious for regressive anti-union labour practices opened a new store in June.
Since Borders' new Cambridge bookshop opened, SCALPP - Cambridge's Socialist Campaign Against Low Pay and Privatisation - has been there regularly. Borders wages, £5 an hour, aren't enough to live on in a place where bedsit flats start at £400 per month; and large stores set standards for others.
An official Borders training document, leaked on the internet, advises managers how to prevent unionisation of its staff. In Cambridge they've responded to our pickets according to the book by introducing a "staff forum" - a management controlled talking shop.
A more sinister weapon is the company-generated climate of fear that surfaces whenever union issues are mentioned. And yet, Borders workers need a union to represent them against a bullying management who even check the bags of every staff member whenever they leave the store - a practice which may well breach European human rights law.
Borders relies on employing young people who believe that they're only working there as a step on their real career. It encourages a 'family ethos' - in other words it treats its employees as not really grown-up.
Some buy into this but many others do not, and our leaflets are causing discreet discussion. Important issues are being aired both in the shop and among other low-paid workers on the street.
Local shop managers may not like us, as they increasingly make clear, but the work we're doing is important, and we won't go away.
If you want to know more about SCALPP or if you plan similar action at a Borders bookshop near you please e-mail us on: SCALPP@hotmail.com
In The Socialist 24 August 2001: