Last December 1,400 factory workers in the West Midlands took exemplary strike action against the 2 Sister Food Group, and in doing so were able to force the glutinous “Chicken King’s” vile hand. As Unite recently reported, workers “won an inflationary busting wage rise, paid time off for workers injured at work and major concessions on holidays and car parking charges.”
Workers across the country should therefore take hope from the impressive work done by trade unionists in the West Midlands; all the more so because until last last summer just under half of the factory’s workers were unionized, while now they can now boast that “80 per cent plus of workers” are Unite members.
At present 2 Sisters’ employs approximately 18,000 people across 35 different sites in the UK, Ireland, Holland and Poland, so it is vital that news of this victory is spread far and wide amongst their hard-pressed workforce. Especially given the fact that over the past several years 2 Sisters has gone from factory to factory attacking their employees pay and conditions… a process that has been valiantly resisted (see “Timeline of 2 Sisters’ Recent Attacks on Workers”).
In a twisted ceremony of ruling-class honour, earlier this year 2 Sisters’ chairman, Sir Charles Allen, was rewarded for his commitment as a class warrior by being invited to become the chairman of the board of trustees of the British Red Cross.
However, the latest twist in the 2 Sisters saga is that Molson Coors factory workers (based in Burton-on-Trent) are in the final days of balloting for strike action in the face of “what can only be described as a vicious assault” on their livelihoods. The connection to the “Chicken King’s” empire coming through 2 Sisters’ board member, Mark Hunter, who is the CEO of Central Europe at Molson Coors Brewing Company — having been their UK President until his promotion last year.
Nasty capitalists always seem attracted to one another like flies to shit. So in response, rank-and-file trade unionists need to come together through democratic structures to help coordinate the fight-back. One organization that might facilitate this process is the National Shop Stewards Network; so if you have time why not pop down to London this summer to participate in their 7th national conference at the end of June.
In the meantime send messages of support to the Molson Coors workers to: Burton.Brewery@unitetheunion.org or via #burtonbrewery on Twitter; and if you have some spare cash consider contributing to their fighting fund. Cheques should be made payable to ‘Unite’ with ‘Burton Brewery’ written on the back and sent to Unite the Union, Finance Department, Transport House,9-17 Victoria Street, West Bromwich, West Midlands, B70 8HX