Victory for striking Hovis workers!

September 24, 2013 in News, Strikes

We are proud of the victory of the Hovis workers in Wigan in the BFAWU bakers union, which is affiliated to the NSSN.

We were delighted that the union’s general secretary Ronnie Draper was able to address our lobby of the TUC on September 8th and our supporters in the North West visited the picket line and took part in the protests.

This represents a significant defeat for Hovis’s casualisation plans, a victory for strike action against zero hour contracts. If the union sees the need to take more action to enforce the agreement, they will get the full support of the NSSN.

Hovis Aug Strike

BFAWU members on the picket line at Hovis

Statement from the BFAWU:

“Thanks for all you have done for our members at Wigan. You have been a great help to us in our fight”
Geoff Atkinson (BFAWU No.4 Organising Regional Secretary)

“The BFAWU would like to thank Hovis (Premier Foods) for finally sitting down with us in order to find a solution to what was becoming a very bitter dispute over the use of zero hours contracts and agency labour at the Wigan bakery. We applaud both Union and company representatives for reaching a settlement that is satisfactory for all concerned.

Having worked together with the company in order to minimise the use of agency labour at the Wigan site, it has been agreed that agency labour will only be used when there is insufficient commitment by employees to work overtime and banked hours. Any agency employee who works a minimum of thirty-nine hours per week for twelve consecutive weeks will be moved to parity pay. The company has also committed to reviewing agency use and manning levels after three months with a view to recruitment into required positions should those manning levels prove to be insufficient. This commitment will not only enable the company to retain skills on the shop floor in order to take the business forward; but also has the potential to create jobs in the local area.

Our members at Hovis have achieved an historic agreement with the company. Having already brought about the end of zero hours contracts leading to twenty-four new permanent jobs, the action taken by those workers has ensured that zero hours contracts will not be provided by a third party. It also means that attempts to use the Swedish Derogation model have been scrapped, with manning levels being reviewed and the possibility of recruitment should the need to use agency arise. This landmark action by two hundred and ten members of a modest sized Union along with meaningful negotiations with the company has brought about significant change that could potentially have a positive knock-on effect throughout the entire labour movement. The leadership shown by BFAWU full-time officials and shop stewards in addition to the immense support received from fellow Unions, Trades Councils and Members of Parliament along with the general public and other activist/political organisations, has helped to achieve a settlement that has fully justified the direct action taken by those concerned.

This result is one that can and should be used as a starting point for all UK workers. They should no longer be prepared to accept the driving down of their terms and conditions as part of a nationwide race to the bottom. They have the right to real pay and real employment with real contracts; leaving a credible legacy for future generations of working people. There is no place in any civilised society for exploitation, whereby the individual takes all the risks and receives minimum pay, no rewards and no long-term security for themselves or their families.

The BFAWU would like to thank the relevant Trades Councils and members of Unite, UCU, Unison, PCS, GMB, FBU, URTU, RMT, ASLEF, NUJ, the Manchester I.T. Workers Group and the NUT along with the TUC, LRC, GFTU, Unite the Resistance and Right to Work for their immense support and generosity. We would also like to thank the Socialist Party, the SWP and the Communist Party in addition to Labour Party MPs for their support, especially the local Wigan MP Lisa Nandy, who was prepared to stand up for these ordinary working people in the political arena.