Organising for Workplace Rights: From Sports Direct to Samworth Brothers

Profit-hungry bosses are well aware of the democratic threat posed by an organised, unionised workforce. When workers are able to act in unity, management are suddently placed on the backfoot, in that they cannot so easily treat their workers as expendable resources – mere cogs in a machine.

Bosses at exploitative and profitable businesses like Sports Direct, or locally based Samworth Brothers, are painfully conscious of the importance of collective action. This is why managers band together on their own board rooms, but seek to prevent such cooperation from occurring amongst their workforce.

Earlier today I joined with trade union activists from Unite Community in a protest held outside of Sports Direct in Leicester city centre, organised as part of the second national day of action against the company. We stood together to condemn the bosses at Sports Direct for working the majority of their employees to the bone on highly exploitative zero hour contacts.

Sportsdirect protest feb 2016

Unite Community is attempting to unionise all workers to enable Sports Directs’ employees to improve their own pay and conditions.

Sadly until enough people choose to join a trade union, zero hour contracts will continue to be forced upon workers at Sports Direct, who are consequently stripped of basic rights like holiday and sick pay, and have no guarantee of work or pay from one week to the next.

Profits continue to amass in the hands of super-rich bosses, while workers struggle to get by.

But now workers across Leicester are beginning to recognize the benefits of being in a union. As a direct result of attacks upon their working conditions, over the past few weeks hundreds of people working in the Samworth Brothers’ factories have decided to join the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union.

Samworth meeting

This surge in membership was then followed by a defiant public meeting on Belgrave Road, attended by over 300 Samworth workers just last Friday. A meeting, at which, many non-union members, faced with escalating workloads and erosion of their ability to make a living, collectively chose to fight back by joining the BFAWU union.

Workers united can never be defeated. On the other hand, workers divided can always be exploited.

This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury mailbox on February 13.

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