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Support the Yodel drivers!

The Workers Party of Britain welcomes the ballot on industrial action opened by the GMB union for over 250 of its members employed by the delivery company Yodel.

Despite the national shortage of drivers, penny-pinching outfits like Yodel like to think that they can continue to fob workers off with low pay and poor conditions. Drivers directly employed by Yodel currently earn less than the agency drivers used to plug gaps in the workforce. Yodel is forever chiseling away at pay and conditions, trying to get out of payments owed in lieu of annual leave and going back on agreements on pay for holiday and sick leave. Despite months of negotiation, Yodel bosses show no inclination to buck up their ideas and treat their hard-working employees as they deserve.

Within the overall national context of low real employment rates, this temporary anomaly of labour shortages in certain areas of the economy creates a golden opportunity for workers to seek redress for years of seeing their work undervalued, and they should strike while the iron is hot.

As companies play catch-up, racing to restock warehouses and refresh supply lines post covid, these labour shortages are emerging at some key pinch points in the supply chain. Many workers formerly employed in the hospitality sector have found work in the growing online retail trade, and labour shortages are showing up in construction and distribution as the economy struggles to get back into gear. Where previously central and eastern Europe could be relied upon to supply cheap labour to plug the gaps and keep wages low, the flow of migration has gone into reverse, prompting business leaders to demand special visas to lure back European drivers and farm workers.

Rather than trying to unpick Brexit by selectively restoring  “free movement of people” (free to be shunted about the world to furnish a supply of cheap labour), the bosses would be better advised to begin raising the wages and conditions of their existing staff.

Yodel drivers are right to press home the advantage afforded by the labour shortage and advance their own class interests. The ballot closes on 15 September, opening the possibility of strikes around Christmas. The Workers Party of Britain offers its full support.