Striking B&Q warehouse workers to protest at Brendan Clarke-Smith jobs fair, after Worksop MP ‘mocks their plight’
- Wednesday 26 January 2022
On Friday, B&Q warehouse workers striking over poverty pay will protest outside a Worksop jobs fair being held by local MP Brendan Clarke-Smith over his refusal to support them.
Some of the Unite the union members, who work at the B&Q national distribution centre at Worksop’s Old Manton Wood Colliery site, cannot afford to heat their homes and have had to use foodbanks to get daily necessities.
When: 10am, Friday, January 28, 2022
Where: Worksop Masonic Hall, Potter St, S80 2AE
Unite, the UK’s leading union, has called upon the `Red Wall’ MP to publicly support the 450 striking B&Q warehouse workers employed by Wincanton. In response, Mr Clarke-Smith failed to promise to consider the workers’ case and even refused to mention the strike.
Instead the MP issued a noncommittal and ambiguous statement urging all employers to pay a “fair wage” and invited “anybody wishing to look for work or who feels like a change to come to my jobs fair”.
Furthermore, when challenged over Facebook by a Unite member over why he voted against cutting VAT on energy bills, Mr Clarke-Smith suggested the member “cancel your membership of Unite, which will save you up to £15 per month”.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members at the B&Q distribution centre, as well as their families, have experienced real hardship because of the poverty wages paid by Wincanton.
“So imagine their anger when the only support Mr Clarke-Smith, who was elected on a pledge to level up, can give is advising them to attend a jobs fair where B&Q is recruiting.
“Their own MP seems to be mocking their plight. Our members’ jobs, pay and conditions are not a laughing matter and Unite will be defending them to the hilt.”
Around 450 Wincanton staff, who make-up the vast majority of the warehouse’s workforce, have been on rolling strikes since November over pay rates as low as £9.96 an hour.
One Wincanton worker, who had to use foodbanks this summer to feed her children and did not wish to be identified, said: “On the wages I am on it’s already very difficult to get by. I’m watching my kids outgrow their clothes and we’re constantly looking for second hand ones.
“I can’t take them on days out, we have to limit time in the shower and they have to put extra clothes on so we keep the heating bills down. With inflation and gas bills going up, if my wages stay this low, we’re going to be in real trouble.”
B&Q owner Kingfisher’s half year pre-tax profits rose by 61.6 per cent to £669 million in 2021, with sales at the DIY-giant increasing by 28.8 per cent in the first six months to July 2021. Wincanton made profits of £47.2 million during 2020 and performed well throughout 2021.
The workers have recently escalated the industrial action over poverty pay to an all-out strike, severely impacting B&Q store deliveries across the country.
Unite regional secretary for the East Midlands, Paresh Patel, said: “Wincanton and B&Q are behaving appallingly by not acknowledging that these workers do not earn enough to live on and need a decent rise to keep up with inflation.
“These are very profitable companies who can clearly afford to pay decent wages and Mr. Clarke-Smith should be standing up for his constituents by saying exactly that.”
Notes to editors:
Disruption is looming at a second national B&Q distribution centre in Cambuslang, Scotland, after GXO lorry drivers voted to take strike action in response to a below inflation pay offer.
HGV drivers employed on behalf of B&Q by GXO in England are also considering pay strikes, which would impact the DIY giant’s nationwide distribution centre in Doncaster as well as further disrupt the Worksop site.
For media enquires ONLY contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Instagram: unitetheunion
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.