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(en) Britain, Catalyst #11 - Tesco - sick pay targetted

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 27 Aug 2004 08:49:59 +0200 (CEST)

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Despite the headline in the last Catalyst, Tesco carries on
oppressing its workers regardless! The recent moves by Tesco
to axe sick pay heralds the beginning of yet another attack on
workers rights. Tesco makes £4.4 million profit every day, yet the
bosses have decided this isnt enough, and they are axing sick pay
in some stores, and testing other schemes to stamp out the sickie
once and for all. Where Britains biggest retailer leads, others are
expected to follow, and worse still, the shopworkers union, USDAW, which
represents about half of Tescos 220,000 workers, is co-operating with
the plan.
Instead of looking at why workers take time off,
usually through low morale caused by crappy pay and
conditions, the bosses typically label us shirkers and
try to cause divisions in the workforce. One scheme,
introduced in two new stores in the south, doesnt
even make any sense. What happens is that workers
get no pay at all for the first three days off sick, but
Unfortunately, management apparently havent realised yet that
people cant be bullied into being
after the fourth day they start getting paid again, with
compensation for the first three days. So, if you are
feeling a bit shit one morning you might as well take
four days off instead of one, otherwise you will lose
pay. Of course, inevitably, the next step will be to
insist on a doctors certificate rather than a self-
They have targeted new stores because they
know if they tried it on existing workers they would
have breached contract rules. Still, if they like it, no
doubt it will be slowly introduced. After all, it is
unlikely that individual workers on low salaries will
successfully take a large employer to an employment
tribunal, especially if their own union has backed the
Another store, Asda, which employs 130,000
people in 265 shops, says it offers incentives to
reward low absenteeism. Again, this is divisive and
means people will come into work when they are not
fit, thus compromising their own health and the health
and safety of their co-workers.
Meanwhile, that mainstay of workers rights, the
Royal Mail, has announced a new incentive scheme
for staff who are not ill over the next six months.
They will be rewarded by being entered into a prize
draw to win a car or a holiday. While I wouldnt refuse
such a prize, it hardly does anything to address the
real problems of morale and sickness within the
However, the main point is that this prize idea
was given publicity, but what is less well-known is
that, for people who arent would-be prize-winners,
there are plans to bully and harass them back to
work, even when they are genuinely sick. People are
being forced to phone up daily and long-term sick
people are being forced into interviews.
Unfortunately, management apparently havent
realised yet that people cant be bullied into being
Workers in all sectors need to be aware of this
new battleground that the bosses are going to try to
exploit. Whether your union is co-operating or
opposing a new sickness scheme, in the end it is
down to the collective strength of the workers as to
whether these schemes come into operation or not.
Catalyst is a Freesheet of the anarchist Solidarity
Federation - IWA

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