Wednesday 23 January 2013

DHL-Howdens workers fight for their jobs

54 UNITE members employed in Widnes by DHL as delivery drivers for Howdens (joinery and kitchens) are fighting for their jobs against plans to close their depot.

Early in January they were given just 30 days warning of the intention to close the depot, threatening all their jobs.  They say "consultation" has been a farce and complain of attempted bullying and intimidation.

The workers believe that the work will be shifted to Yorkshire.  Given that the goods come from Runcorn, this would add costs in time, money and the environment.  The workers believe there is no genuine business case for the closure, but see it as an attack on a well unionised workforce.

An industrial action ballot is underway, but the delays required for compliance with the anti-union laws mean that action could barely have begun by the time the site closes.  This should be a warning to all workers given the government's plans to cut the minimum consultation period for large scale redundancies from 90 days to 45 - a step that would force many workers to defy the law if they are serious about fighting for their jobs.

The UNITE members are not sitting back and waiting though.  When not on shift, they have been busy staging protests.  Today they were at the Howdens Joinery in Manchester, right near my own workplace.  A few of us went to show solidarity and join the protest in our dinner break:

There is nothing more depressing than reading news stories about hundreds of jobs being lost without a fight.  This is usually due to workers lacking confidence and organisation.  Any group of workers fighting to save their jobs deserve everyone's support - if they win it can only raise the confidence of others.

You can find out more about the fight to save the Widnes jobs on Facebook (widnes.drivers) or Twitter (@WidnesDrivers) or Flickr.

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