Workers at Tesco Dagenham distribution site are striking over pay from 10pm on Thursday 17 May. Following over a year of negotiations between Tesco and the retail and distribution workers' union Usdaw, bosses have refused to improve their initial offer which was worth less than 3%.
Simon Vincent, an Usdaw rep at the site, says: "Our members work in temperatures one degree above freezing with difficult performance targets. Many are agency workers and 53 of them left in April alone as they simply cannot live on the wages offered. They feel exploited, underpaid and overworked."
Tesco announced in April that pre-tax profits for the year ending 24 February were a huge £1.3 billion - up from £145 million the previous year. As Simon points out this is "not about Tesco's ability to pay, it's about their refusal to pay. Another Tesco depot just five miles up the road pays its staff £1.30 an hour more than in Dagenham."
The money is clearly there. Yet Tesco has slashed terms and conditions, premiums and jobs in stores and call centres in recent years. Striking back against these attacks and for better pay is absolutely correct and necessary and the new Usdaw president, Socialist Party member Amy Murphy, was elected with support for industrial action one of her main policies.
Picket lines are 10pm on 17 May and then 6am and 2pm on 18 May. Simon says: "We would love to see retail, distribution and the wider trade union movement come to our picket line and support our members and show solidarity." The Socialist Party sends solidarity and urges everyone who can to attend picket lines and show support on social media.
Turnout in the ballot was over 70% with 63% voting in favour of industrial action and further strikes could follow.
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