'Full and solid support'
Protest in support of striking Chep pallet workers at Trafford Park tomorrow as pay talks start
Reading time: 4 min
A rally in support of striking workers at pallet suppliers Chep UK will be held at the Trafford Park site tomorrow (February 16) as bosses agree to hold pay talks in the three month-old dispute.
The workers, members of Unite the union, have been on strike since December – and recently renewed their mandate for strike action into the spring by a majority of 94 per cent – over the management’s failure to improve on their offer of two per cent, when the RPI rate of inflation is running at 7.5 per cent.
The rally arranged by the Manchester Trades Council will be held at Chep UK in Trafford Park in Manchester M17 1HR, from 7.30am.
Commenting, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “This latest vote for strike action is a robust rejection of a pitiful offer from the company which would leave workers considerably worse off. Management needs to get serious and come back with a pay rise, not a cut in living standards.
“Our Chep members have the full and solid support of their union in their fight.”
Unite regional officer Ian McCluskey added, “Our members have been on continuous strike since December 17 for a decent pay rise from an employer whose profits soared during the pandemic.
“After the workers voted by 94 per cent in a re-ballot to continue their strike into the spring, Chep has finally agreed to talks tomorrow so we want a big show of support at the rally to demonstrate the strength of our members’ determination to achieve pay justice.”
UniteLive caught up with Unite rep and striking Chep worker Andy Aspinall at a People’s Assembly cost of living demonstration in Manchester this weekend, which drew hundreds of people.
He explained exactly why this strike was so vital and just what was at stake.
“There’s no two ways about it – you cannot avoid the cost of living increases now,” he explained. “Everything has gone up – gas bills, electricity bills, household items, food. And to top it all off we’re expecting an increase in National Insurance in April. It’s having a massive impact on our members.”
“Our jobs at Chep used to be decently paid but our wages have massively stagnated over the years,” Andy added. “Year after year they’ve offered typically derisory pay offers – one per cent one year when inflation has been at three per cent, for example. Over the last seven or eight years, we’ve had maybe only a six percent pay increase in total so in reality that’s a pay cut. And now the impact of years of stagnating wages has being keenly felt especially with the cost of living crisis now. This is why we’re taking a stand.”
Chep UK, which is based in Trafford Park, Manchester, repairs and supplies pallets for supporting and transporting goods to a host of prominent companies including InBev, Heinz, Heineken, A&B Containers, Encric and TDS.
Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will fight back against any efforts to diminish workers’ living standards.
By Shaun Noble