Thursday, 12 July 2012

Unite warns Greencore in Hull to end attacks on workers' rights

Unite, Britain's biggest union, is warning a key supplier to Asda, Sainsbury's and Waitrose to end its attacks on workers' rights or face the full force of the union which is determined to deliver justice for the workforce.
The union has already filed a complaint with the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) against Greencore in Hull, which supplies cakes and desserts to well known supermarkets.
In the complaint the union has submitted evidence that the company has impoverished its workers by abolishing overtime, shift and bank holiday premia for all workers, the majority of whom are on the national minimum wage. Greencore is threatening to make 236 people redundant and replace them with agency workers and breaching employment law by issuing individual notices to terminate contracts and re-engage workers on the new, worse terms and conditions before the end of the legal consultation period.
The complaint to the ETI claims the company is breaching the ETI's base code to which Greencore is a signatory. The union believes the company is breaching the code on freedom of association, working hours, the provision of regular employment and intimidation of the workforce.
Unite national officer, Jennie Formby, said: "We’re not prepared to sit back and allow blatant breaches of the Ethical Trading Initiative code which is there to protect workers from exploitation. Unite is now making a formal complaint to the ETI Board. Unless this supplier to Asda, Sainsbury's, Waitrose and Tesco ends its attacks on workers rights, it will feel the full weight of Unite, a union determined to fight back for the workers.
"Unite will not accept companies that break the law, attack union rights and the terms and conditions of the lowest paid workers in society. It would be better for the company to sit down with Unite and resolve the outstanding issues through constructive talks rather than face the full force of a major campaign against it."
Greencore Group plc is an international manufacturer of convenience foods. It has 22 convenience foods manufacturing sites in the UK and the US; and employs in the region of 11,000 people. Unite represents thousands of workers at Greencore sites across the UK. The union's ETI complaint relates to the company's cakes and desserts supplier in Hull.
The Ethical Trading Initiative base code is founded on the conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and is an internationally recognised code of labour practice. It was negotiated and agreed by the founding trade union, NGO and corporate members of ETI and contains nine clauses which reflect the most relevant conventions of the International Labour Organisation with respect to labour practices. http://www.ethicaltrade.org/eti-base-code

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Unite Policy Conference 2012

United Left delegates from North East, Yorkshire & Humberside made a significant impact upon the Unite Policy Conference held last week at Brighton.
Conference debated and passed motions on issues such as the economy where there was a call for taking banks into public ownership, housing calling for more council house building to create jobs and ease the housing crisis. Defence and energy proved to be the two liveliest debates with anti-nuclear supporters making the case for non nuclear strategies in both sectors but delegates eventually sided with a policy that supports members working in defence and energy industries but does not ignore the political aspirations of those that wish to see a society free from nuclear weapons and power stations.

Among the United Left delegates to speak at conference were Ged Dempsey, Steve Bush and Charlotte Childs. All made important contributions by either moving motions/ amendments and contributing to the wider debate.
This conference was a successful one that saw Unite evidently becoming a union at ease with itself.
This will leave it in good stead to continue the fight back against austerity and with good United Left activists in the fight the future looks good.