These days the kid in the Hovis advert would get to the top of the hill only to be told to fuck off home because he’d been laid off and replaced with an agency worker at short notice. This is an all too common practice amongst grasping employers who use agencies, temporary and zero-hour contracts or even workfare in a bid to undermine the wages and conditions of the people who actually do the work in their companies.
This casualisation of the workplace leads to desperate consequences as workers are laid off without a second thought to increase profits. With social security being demolished and unemployment sky-high, it is more vital than ever that this constant undermining of low paid workers is brought to an end.
One union is taking a stand against the constant erosion of workplace rights by taking on household name Hovis over their recent contemptible treatment of their staff. Earlier in the year Hovis made 30 people redundant at their Wigan bakery. Astonishingly just 48 hours later the company brought in agency staff on zero-hour contracts to replace the sacked workers.
This led to a furious response from the Bakers’, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) who immediately balloted for a strike with resounding success. The first week long strike began at the end of August and led to Hovis agreeing to stop using zero-hour contracts and employ these workers properly. The dispute is far from over however with Hovis planning to increase the number of agency workers they exploit. The Union warns this means zero-hour contracts are likely to be back and simply managed by a third party away from real scrutiny. A second 7 day strike begins tomorrow (September 11th) at 6am calling and the BFAWU have called for a day of solidarity.
The Union’s demand is clear: “this issue can be settled by the company agreeing to pay all workers the recognised rates of pay and guaranteeing them the same employment rights.”
According to the BFAWU, Hovis have behaved appallingly throughout the strike with claims that: “they hired local ‘heavies’ to intimidate striking BFAWU members, which is deplorable conduct if proven to be true. In addition to this, the company has apparently refused to allow employees to take part in a charity bike ride in order to raise money for the MacMillan Cancer Support Charity.”
Whilst trade unions bigwigs make bold speeches about a one day general strike that will probably never happen at the TUC conference this week, here is a real fighting union taking proper industrial action to defend the wages and conditions of all workers at Hovis. They deserve everyone’s support who wants to fight back against the constant erosion of our rights, working conditions and incomes to prop up those making billions at our expense.
Support the strike by telling Hovis what you think from tomorrow Sept 11th and throughout the strike. Let’s make sure the company knows that it is not just their own workforce who cares about the erosion of real jobs on proper contracts but all of us who buy their over-priced bread as well. Hovis are on twitter @hovisbakery and facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/hovisbakery
And remember only a dirty rotten scab would buy a Hovis loaf of bread whilst this strike is taking place. Hovis are owned by Premier Foods who make all this stuff as well.
A rally is taking place this Saturday 14th September in Wigan in support of the strike: http://uniteresist.org/2013/09/public-rally-to-back-hovis-strikers-saturday-14-september/
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