By Neil Moore, Unite Hospitality Organiser (personal capacity)
Bosses at Allied Bakeries have been forced to significantly improve their abysmal pay offer after powerful and decisive strike action by workers in Unite and the Bakers’ Union – BFAWU. The militancy and determination of the workforce has won them an above-inflation pay increase as opposed to real-term incomes falling, as would have been the case with the original offer from management.
The strike, a first in over three decades at the Castlereagh Road site, saw strong pickets in freezing sleet and rain, from 6am on Sunday 16th February. The workers were buoyed by support from Harland & Wolff workers, young trade unionists from the hospitality sector and activists from across the labour movement. Delivery vehicles were backed up for hours on either side of the picket line, as scab drivers and management failed in their attempts to maintain production ahead of Pancake Tuesday.
This victory was hard won by the determination and militancy of Allied Bakeries workers. It bucks the trend of below-inflation pay increases and wage stagnation across most sectors since the financial crisis. As politicians continue to peddle the idea of a recovering economy, workers’ are rightly demanding their share of the pie. This strike gives a clear example to workers that getting organised, taking determined and militant action will force bosses to the negotiating table and win respect and real pay increases.