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M&S food supplier strike in Sheffield - any direct information?

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AngryWorkersWorld
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May 24 2016 17:31
M&S food supplier strike in Sheffield - any direct information?

ciao,

some workers at a M&S food supplier factory in Sheffield went on strike against new contracts. some news sources say 150, some 400 out of in total 900 workers take part. below two articles from bbc and socialist party, which are not too helpful to answer the main questions: who are the workers who don't take part and why not? what is the tactic of the union (they don't actively blockade the trucks)? what is the atmosphere and the discussion amongst the strikers? anyone in sheffield, who has a chance to get us first hand news? we are very keen to find out more, as some of us work in similar plants...

stay tuned

Sheffield's Pennine Foods' staff strike in £5k wage-loss row
20 May 2016

Pennine food's parent company said it was "disappointed some colleagues have decided on industrial action"

Factory workers who claim they would lose £5,000 a year under contract changes have gone on strike.
About 400 staff members at Sheffield's Pennine Foods factory - which makes M&S ready meals - are on the second day of a 48-hour walkout. They say changes would remove extra weekend pay and lieu days for working weekends and bank holidays.
Pennine Food's parent company said it was "disappointed some colleagues have decided on industrial action".

"We will be holding more talks to avert any further action, and have contingency plans in place to ensure production remains unaffected", the 2 Sisters Food Group said.
The company's commitment to Pennine Foods was shown by a "£38m investment programme to upgrade the factory into a world-class production facility", it added.
About 900 people are employed at the factory.

John Higgins, regional secretary of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), said a ballot had found more than 90% of the workforce would refuse the new contract.
"People are entitled to work for a better living wage not for a worse living wage", he said.
Mr Higgins said the company was attacking his members' terms and conditions to "make money back".
The strike is due to finish on Saturday morning but walkouts could be planned in the near future, he added.

Posted on 19 May 2016 at 17:13 GMT

Pennine Foods strike, 19.5.16, photo by A Tice (Click to enlarge)
Pennine Foods - Strikers persuade delivery lorries to turn away

Alistair Tice, Yorkshire Socialist Party
Pickets sang "Where's your veg gone, where's your veg gone, far far away" after a wagon driver refused to cross the bakers' union picket at the Pennine Foods strike in Sheffield this morning.

Hundreds of BFAWU bakers' union members began a 48-hour strike at 6am against the company (part of the 2 Sisters group) imposing a new contract on all the workers which will cut some wages by as much as £80 a week.

Pennine Foods strikers, 19.5.16, photo by A Tice (Click to enlarge)
Pennine Foods supplies Marks and Spencer, so one homemade banner read: "This isn't just any strike, It's an M&S strike!"

In recent years, the bosses have employed new starters on new contracts paying no weekend, bank holiday or unsocial hour enhancements. Now that the workers on the older contracts (paying premium rates) are in a minority of the workforce, the company thought that it could get away with forcing a new contract on all the staff, removing all premium payments.

But, even though the newer contract workers would get a pay rise of £30 a week, they showed impressive solidarityby refusing to accept the new contract and voted to support their colleagues. In the ballot for strike action 85% voted in favour.

Over 100 new members have joined the union in the last week in this very multicultural workforce - around a third of the workers are black and Asian and another third eastern European.

Around 150 have stood on the picket lines. By early afternoon six delivery lorries had refused to cross the picket lines, boosting the confidence of these workers who are striking for the first time ever in the firm's 28-year history.

At first the wagons weren't stopping because management and security were coercing them in. So one young lad crossing the road in front of an approaching lorry stopped to tie his shoelace, and then the other shoe, forcing the driver to stop, allowing pickets to surround the cab and persuade the driver to drive on. This worked a second time! Then the police arrived and started inspecting shoelaces!

Pennine Foods strike picket - Stopping to tie a shoelace, 19.5.16, photo A Tice (Click to enlarge)
If the company doesn't withdraw the imposition of the new contract, three more dates for 48-strikes have been set.

• Please send messages of support to: john.higgins@bfawu.org or haroon.rashid@bfawu.org
• Donations: Make cheques out to BFAWU and send to Pennine Strike Fund - BFAWU, Stanborough House, Great North Road, Welwyn Garden City, Herts AL8 7TA.