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Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 50 Number 35, September 12, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Workers' Forum

Biscuit Workers Strike in Edinburgh

Workers at biscuit manufacturer Burton's in Sighthill, Edinburgh, Scotland, struck work on Wednesday morning, September 9. It was the first of three 24-hour strike actions scheduled by the GMB union for September over the company's refusal to improve on a "derisory" pay offer. A socially-distanced picket line was set up at 6am Wednesday until 05.59 hours on Thursday morning, complying with the UK industrial action laws and Scottish government public health guidelines on Covid-19.

The biscuit manufacturer is owned by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan investment company which holds net assets worth $204.7 billion. More than 400 workers are employed at its Edinburgh factory, which makes around 7.5 million biscuits a day.

Workers at the plant voted by an overwhelming majority of 91 per cent for the industrial action. It not only shows their feeling but their unity. It deeply reflects their considered approach to resolving the problems. Much caution has been approached by their organisation to avoid confrontation but has been met with negative responses in talks, so actions have had to be stepped up. An indefinite tactical work to rule and overtime ban and a series of stoppages strikes are scheduled throughout September. These are carefully planned actions and escalations.

At the start of lockdown, the company was at the centre of a row over failing to meet government guidelines over physical distancing and PPE and pressurising staff to go to work.

In recent times, the workers have had to confront intransigent management to uphold their dignity. They have had to put up with insulting derisory pay-offers. The firm has exposed its blatant interests for profit alone disregarding the conditions of workers during and beyond the pandemic lockdown. On top of this, high-handed attitude and superior complex of looking down on the workforce and its representatives, have been features of the owners' indifference and outlook.

Workers interests for pay and conditions and refusal to be exploited emerges in their independent outlook and has materialised in their dignified protest. The GMB Union has accused the company of not valuing employees who are the wealth creators in the business.


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