Some 1,200 workers were set to strike on Friday of this week at four factories in the West Midlands. They are fighting poverty pay, along with alleged bullying and lack of support for workers who suffer industrial accidents.
The workers are members of the Unite union employed by the 2 Sisters food group—and 85 percent are Asian.
“We’re going to close all the sites to take on this greedy gaffer,” health and safety rep Gurshuran Singh told Socialist Worker.
“We work in cold conditions, and some have problems with finger pains and back pains. Most of the workers are only on £6.22, and they are offering only a 20p pay rise.”
The 2 Sisters workers are raging at the derisory pay offer, especially as their current rate is just 3p more than the minimum wage.
Even this is linked to attacks on conditions, including a new seven-day shift pattern. “This needs to stop,” said Gurshuran. “We will get a good pay rise.”
Over 300 workers rallied on Friday of last week after their ballot result was announced—with 98.5 percent in favour of strikes.
The rally was angry and determined. Workers are also incensed at management breaking promises over pay and apparently withdrawing a better pay offer.
The company has been on a buying spree of food factories, expanding its empire. This is why it has increasingly been targeted by strikes.
Unite regional officer Des Quinn said, “The management should be under no illusions at the depth of anger our members feel at the way they’ve been treated.”
One of the biggest cheers at the rally was for a solidarity speaker from teachers’ union NUT in Sandwell. They said, “We need to link all the struggles over pay and conditions. We should join together to bring down this government and the employers who support them.”
As well as Friday’s strike, workers are set to begin an overtime ban and work-to-rule. They were set to picket from 6am on Friday and planned to hold a demonstration at the Bevan Way site. Workers plan to strike again on Tuesday and Friday of next week.
Why not pay a visit to a 2 Sisters picket line? Unit 2, Bevan Way, Alpha Business Park, Smethwick, Warley B66 1AW; Dial Lane, West Bromwich B70 0EB; Gallus House, Lincoln St, Wolverhampton WV10 0DX. Send messages of support to firstname.lastname@example.org