Tens of thousands of retail workers are being laid off. These workers are facing a bleak future, many of whom have been working on low wages for the big retail companies for years. Woolworths is now closed, yet all those workers are getting is the statutory redundancy payments of less than a few hundred pounds.
Gordon Brown is promising schemes to create new jobs. But what will these jobs be like? Will they be on decent wages with good working conditions and pensions, or will this be another New Labour gimmick?
Woolworths and other retail workers deserve better than empty promises from Gordon Brown, after all our union Usdaw subsidises New Labour to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds every year.
All companies threatening redundancies should be nationalised but under democratic workers’ control and management. We should open the books and find out where all the profits have gone – profits made by the workers.
I am standing for election to become president of Usdaw because our union needs to be a fighting union, we should be building a mass campaign against job losses but also demanding a minimum wage of £8 an hour without exceptions. The union should be taking workers' wages and conditions forward, not watching them go backwards.
And why are mainly female and part-time shop workers treated as if they are only earning pin money by the trade union leaders? It is time for all shop workers to get active to build Usdaw as a democratic and independent campaigning trade union.
I have been a trade unionist since the age of 19, a Tesco union rep for 21 years, and a member of the Usdaw executive Council for nine years.The election runs from 19 January to 13 February.