Wigan union members join picket line protest for better pay deal

Delegates from Wigan Trades Council packed up their banners and flags and headed to the picket line.

By Gaynor Clarke
Friday, 28th January 2022, 12:30 pm
Protestors on the picket line
Protestors on the picket line

They joined Unite members at Cheps UK in Manchester who were on an all-out strike for a five per cent pay rise, after their employer announced £150m profit during the pandemic.

Chep UK supplies pallets and containers to firms including Heinz in Wigan.

A trades council spokesman said: “We sent a delegation to this picket line because the issue of pay is going to be a critical problem for workers everywhere.

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“The inflation rate is creeping up as the big employers are clawing back the profits they lost during the pandemic.

“By April this year, millions are going to be hit with massive bills for their energy consumption, costs that will feed through to prices in the shops. On top of this the new ‘clean air’ charges on lorries and vans will again be off-loaded onto customers.

“Yet almost £150bn has been siphoned off for shareholders in energy companies over the past decade as prices for consumers have risen nine times.

“The only way we can stop this madness is to get organised and follow the example of trade unionists like these Chep workers.”

One striker said: “We were told during the past year that we were on the frontline of the pandemic, that the business would suffer if we didn’t go all out to ensure we supplied the equipment needed to clients to get supplies out, that we would be rewarded for our efforts. They then offer 1.5 per cent at the same time as announcing £150m profits.”

Another striker said: “We are asking for a five per cent rise when inflation is creeping up and is now six per cent and expected to rise to seven per cent and over. All they do now is offer to negotiate and then ask what we want, when they know all too well what we want. That’s not negotiation, that’s stringing us along.”

Ian McCluskey, Unite regional organiser, said: “This is a great picket line. Apart from a few strikers who have understandable issues, every striker does picket duty - morning, noon and night on a 24-hour basis. You can’t ask more than that.”

The strikers were invited to a meeting of Wigan Trades Council and Mary Callaghan, Unite NEC member and Wigan TUC president, gave her support.

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