Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Unite Union difference in Staffordshire - staggering, but true!

I'm "not allowed" inside the Waterstones warehouse in Burton.    Perhaps they are still cross about

But no. The real reason is because they pay new "perms" £6.21  per hour.   There's not many of them.  Most of it's workers are "agency", also earning £6.21 per hour.    This means they get around laws that Agency get  
treated the same as perms - they make sure the perms are also exploited.

And it was much the same at the Argos warehouse up the road at Barton Under Needwood, until Unite became recognised and started negotiations for wages every year.   That was seven years ago.

At the Argos warehouse, pay has gone from £6 per hour to £9.93 per hour.

That's the Unite difference  - and it's staggering.

I've recruited some members at the Waterstones warehouse.   I have the legal right to represent members there on individual grievance or disciplinary hearings (that right has only existed since 1999).

When I arrive, I am escorted across the road to a meeting room hired from a different company.  Workers facing a hearing who are not members of Unite are found a room within the warehouse.....

Life is hard on £9.93 per hour.   But my members on £6.21 think the Argos workers are rich.

One thing is for sure.....the union difference is staggering.

Argos......annual negotiations on pay
Waterstones - a pay rise only when the minimum wage goes up

Argos - onsite Union Learning Centre, trained Health&Safety Reps, team of Unite Stewards
Waterstones - the HR department

Argos - site agreements on sickness absence & sickness pay, negotiated disciplinary procedures, consultation on any changes to contracts
Waterstones - no agreements, no consultation on contract changes

Many of the unhappy workers at Waterstones will move to other local warehouses, such as Boots.  All the non-union warehouses in the area have the same things in common - poverty pay & insecure employment prospects.

The rational and sensible thing to do is for workers to get together where they are and improve it.  When they try it, they may well be astonished at what can be achieved.

I just love that when ordinary people simply band together to form a union, these wonderful things can and do happen.

I'm so proud of our wonderful members at Argos Barton for having achieved what they have in such a short space of time.

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