MANCHESTER, England — “Our claim is for a 5% rise in our wages, the company is offering 2%,” Malcolm Bostock, a Unite union representative, told the Militant on the picket line at the CHEP U.K. plant in Trafford Park. CHEP is owned by Australian company Brambles, one of the major distributors of pallets worldwide.
Bostock and some five dozen of his co-workers have been on strike since Dec. 17, after four one-day strikes. “We’ve worked all the way through the COVID pandemic, we’ll keep going until we get what we deserve,” he said.
Strikers maintain a 24-hour picket line from Monday to Friday. “People support us everywhere now, we are turning wagons away, 70% are driving off,” Bostock said in a video posted online. Those visiting the strikers have turned up with food, drink and wood to keep the much-needed fire on their picket line going. A delegation from the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union based at Piccadilly train station visited the pickets.
“There’s no production going on in there,” said striker John Reid. “They thought they could just carry on, that not enough would join in the strike, but we’ve shown them.”
Spirit on the picket line is high. “In the lead-up to the strike several more workers have joined the union,” said Mark Allan, a former coal miner, who has worked at CHEP for 25 years. “We’ve got unity. They never thought we would be so strong.”