Wildcat strike in Bury

Bert Ratcliffe reports on the sudden strike at the food factory


On Wednesday July 27, hundreds of workers on the back shift at a food factory in a factory at Pilsworth in Bury walked out in protest at management plans to cut breaks and the related problems of working in the chilly conditions of the production line. Poor pay was also mentioned by the strikers.

The following morning workers on the early shift decide to stay out, and by Friday some success was achieved and the workers returned to work.

What is remarkable about this is that there is no union, either officially recognised or not, on the site and there are no known union members there.

Many are of Polish or Romanian origin, and there are 52 different nationalities working at the Pilsworth factory. Workers said on Monday that they were quite pleased with what they achieved but knew there was a long way to go and many were very keen to take union contact details. Some of them had been thinking about how to join a union over the weekend.

Cranswick Continental Foods are a highly profitable ‘fine food’ processor selling to retailers, including to supermarkets. They say they are ‘ethical’, of course, but that does not seem to include treatment of workers. This is the first stoppage in the company’s history.

This action is a sign of things to come, and is part of a new wave of different wildcat strikes in different companies. This is something for the unions to work on; organising to link up with other workers who understand the power of the collective from practical experience.

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