Day of action in support of Topshop two.

A spur of the moment protest in support of United Voices of the World union’s day of action against topshop, for their poverty wages and anti-union practices.

Dorset wobs assembled outside the shop at criterion arcade, in Bournemouth town centre with a couple of sheets of cardboard and proceeded to make placards; this attracted attention straight away. We hadn’t managed to get any leaflets printed in time so departed from the usual tactic of haranguing passers-by and pressing paper into their hands. Standing and walking around with our placards and banner we found people actually slowed down to read and engage with us rather than marching past with their heads down as usual. We had some interesting conversations and made some good contacts. We were later joined by comrades from Dorset Radical assembly.

The management was alerted to our presence when a punter returned the goods they had just bought, in protest, cops came and went. By the end of the day we had two new members. Our Hampshire group with Southampton Direct Action Initiative picketed the branch in Above Bar street simultaneously – and they had fliers!

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There will be no unpaid workers at the Co-op!

end-unpaid-work_0Dorset IWW General Members’ Branch is pleased to announce that our dispute with a Bournemouth outlet of the Co-operative has been settled amicably. We have a verbal assurance from local management who are USDAW members, that they have no wish to exploit unpaid workers on their premises, and that their connection with ‘Prospects’ has been severed. We congratulate them on their principled decision and affirm our commitment to defeat the government’s work programme and end unpaid labour.

Nationally however, the situation is less clear; we have had sight of a Co-op internal document that sets out the parameters of their unpaid work experience programme. Whilst it insists that placements must be voluntary and offer meaningful experience, we note that vulnerable adults are being conscripted who may not be fully aware of their rights. It’s highly likely some of them will not be able to make an informed decision and/or will get browbeaten by jobcentre staff with targets to meet. Once they are on the scheme if they leave they may be deemed to have made themselves intentionally unemployed, and be sanctioned. Lastly of course, however you dress it up, it’s unpaid labour. How long does it take to assess a person’s suitability for working in a grocer’s shop? A week, two? Why then should a national chain not speculate a fortnight’s minimum wage to find out?coop

Anti Workfare Pickets. IWW Dorset

boycottworkfareA local Co-operative store in Bournemouth has chosen to sign up to use the exploitative practice of Workfare or government work programme.

IWW Dorset are outraged that a store that promotes itself as an “ethical employer” is prepared to put fellow workers jobs at risk, as well as paying the workfare participant less than minimum wage.

We demand that Co-operative put an immediate end to this exploitative practice and offer the workfare participant a contract of employment and treat them as an equal team member.

As such we are proposing a rolling picket to inform customers of the situation and allow them to make up their own minds what action they are prepared to take if any.

We are therefore looking for volunteers to man the picket, handing out leaflets at convenient times between 7am and 11pm ongoing as and when people are available.

The picket will operate at any times when we can get 3 or more people to man it.

Leaflets and guidance will be provided for all volunteers.

If you want to help with this action please be in touch, in the first instance by emailing afoolofatook@riseup.net with any availability. Someone will then be in contact with you with further details and rota slots will be prepared.

Solidarity – See you on the streets!

Another win for Dorset IWW

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On a frosty Sunday January morning this year I was cycling to work and skidded on a patch of frost. I came off my bike and injured my shoulder. I phoned work immediately to tell them I wouldn’t make it to work.

The company I work for do pay limited sick pay after a years service and I was eligible for this. Imagine then my surprise to get my pay slip and find and entry logged as ‘Unauthorised abscence…-£53.99’.

I raised this with my boss. ‘Yeah but you only gave us 10 minutes notice he said you have to give us 2 hours if you’re going to report sick’.

‘Fuck that’ was the first thought that went through my mind but I knew that would be counter productive so I pointed out to my boss that my sick record was better than average and that I could hardly expect to give 2 hours notice when I was sprawled all over the road with a shoulder injury 15 minutes before being due at work.

He conceded the point. ‘It’ll be in your next pay cycle’ he informed me. Ok fair enough. February pay cycle came and went, March Came and went, April too. Nothing.

Late in April I upped the anti and told my boss I wasn’t happy with this prevarication and indolence in quite forceful terms.

The reply went something like this “I’ve got a lot to do running this store I can’t think of everything”. My reply? “Thats not my problem thats what you get your film star salary for. 53 quid might not be a lot to you but its a lot to me. This is now a union matter”.

Im dual carded being in both USDAW and the IWW and he knows it. He also knows that the IWW won’t shirk direct action. What he couldn’t have known is which of the two unions I would raise the issue with (I raised it with both).

USDAW’s response ‘Raise a grievance and put it in writing it’s part of the national agreement’. Fucking reformist beaurocrats.

Dorset wobs response? ‘Thats wages theft if you don’t get a result we’ll take direct action’

I have just picked up my paycheque and hey presto sick pay duly paid.

During the final confrontation we did have a bit of a shouting match and I didn’t back down. 10 minutes after this my boss apologised for shouting at me and said ‘That’s done’

Don’t take any shit from the boss. Stand up to them.

Direct action or even the faintest hint of it in this case worked. This was dealt with at a local level without the need for beaurocratic reformist bollocks.

Without what I have learn’t from being in the IWW I’m not at all sure that this would ever have been resolved or that I would get a result at all.

A Dorset Wobbly.

Deal or No Deal

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I work part-time (16 hours) at South West branch of a well known national chain of grocery stores that like to publicise themselves as ethical and a mutual.

At a management briefing today a pay deal has been announced for the next two years amounting to 10.2 percent with 8.2 percent being paid in October 2015 and 2% in October 2016. This pay rise has been restricted to Floor staff and 1st line team leaders.

Whilst on the surface this may seem a good deal it is flawed at the most fundamental level. Most workers are on short time contracts; anything from 8 to 20 hours and for many of them especially those drawing in-work benefits this pay rise is no rise at all.

Colleagues drawing such benefits as Housing Benefit, Tax credits, Pension credit or any other means tested benefits probably will not get a pay rise because their hourly rate will increase and their means tested subsidies will go down cancelling out any advantage.

Team leaders are mostly on full time contracts of 35 hours and above so will probably derive some short term benefit from this deal before inflation cancels it out.

USDAW will probably crow about this deal from the rooftops whilst urging it’s members to vote Labour and will be busy trying to avoid dislocating it’s collaborationist shoulder whilst it pats itself on the back about ‘delivering’ for it’s membership who pay the eye watering salaries to its office bearers enjoying privileged jobs for life at the members expense.

This is a lousy deal for all workers whichever way you stack it up. It reinforces division between workers in an artificial hierarchy, it does nothing for the lowest paid and most exploited workers, it gives a collaborationist union that frequently negotiates ‘no-strike’ deals with exploitative employers just to get recognition at work a superficial piece of meaningless publicity.

The long term vision of the Industrial Workers of the World must remain in place. There can be no peace until the wages system is done away with and workers in all endeavours of the means of production whether agrarian or industrial are fully in democratic control.

Reformism and collaboration are not the tools of working class emancipation.

The struggle goes on.

A Worker.