Every worker should back the DHL workers based in Portal Way, Liverpool.
DHL, like many logistics firms, is making huge profits, and is one of the few businesses to be doing well out of the lockdown. But when it comes to wages, the company is unwilling to pay decent money to workers who have kept the country going and generated huge profits for their employers.
The Portal Way dispute is a result of low pay, with warehouse operatives being paid only just above the minimum wage (by two and a half pence), as well as of the systematic victimisation of workers, which has resulted in a complete breakdown in industrial relations.
Tensions during the initial strikes, which began on 19 December, were heightened as DHL’s local management were accused of wasting police time by repeatedly calling the police to a peaceful picket line.
Local DHL managers have continued to make unfounded allegations about the conduct of the striking workers and Unite is warning that this could further undermine the chances of reaching a negotiated settlement.
Unite national officer Matt Draper said: “DHL’s insulting offer of less than the equivalent cost of half a packet of Jammie Dodgers per hour is offensive to its loyal key workers, who have continued to work throughout the coronavirus crisis, whilst DHL bosses continue to rack up the profits earned during the pandemic.”
Manual workers deserve better
Covid is impacting the lives of manual workers the most. Manual workers not only have the worst pay and working conditions but are also many times more likely to meet an early death from the coronavirus.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released figures revealing that men working in factories had the highest rates of covid deaths in England and Wales last year, recording a rate of 143.2 deaths per 100,000 males, compared with a rate of 31.4 deaths among men of the same age in the wider population.
Poorer workers are more likely to be employed in manual jobs, more likely to be classed as ‘essential’, less likely to be furloughed and less likely to be able to isolate. To cap it off they are also more likely to be suffering from other ailments owing to stress, overcrowded living conditions, inadequate nutrition, poor air quality etc.
Once again, the pandemic is ramming home the lesson that capitalism kills. Workers need socialism.
The Workers Party of Britain is backing all manual workers who take industrial action to protect their working conditions and improve their pay. Billions in profits are being made by logistics companies and if our country values the working class it must make sure the workers get a share in the fruits of their labour.