by Ken Ferguson, Editor, Scottish Socialist Voice
· The battle to win reinstatement for Glasgow IKEA shop steward Richie Venton, and 100 per cent average wages for workers sick with Covid-19, is gathering phenomenal momentum on several fronts simultaneously.
Thousands have signed the petition at the Reinstate Richie Venton website. Most of them with warm expressions of solidarity, outraged denunciation of IKEA’s actions, and in a big majority of cases the pledge to never again darken the doors of the global giant until reinstatement has been won.
Over 5000 had signed within a few days and they still come rolling in. Meantime, the workers of IKEA and their growing army of supporters across the trade union movement have taken the battle to the belly of the beast with the power to outlaw such Union-busting and victimisation; namely the House of Commons at Westminster.
Chris Stephens MP has lodged an Early Day Motion—EDM #797—which within mere hours had 25 MPs’ signatures, including that of SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford and standard-bearer of the Labour left, Jeremy Corbyn (go to ReinstateRichieVenton.com to read it). That in itself sent a tremor of panic into the upper echelons of IKEA management, with emergency meetings next morning.
Across the trade union movement, the expressions of solidarity have been unprecedented.
As more than one veteran of the movement has commented, “I’ve never seen so many messages in support of one trade unionist.”
Richie’s victimisation has touched a raw, angry nerve amongst thousands of workers who fear that if this case isn’t won for the workers, other employers will follow suit, under cover of Covid-19 and the mounting recession.
The campaign has acted as a lightning conductor for the pent-up fury of workers on the frontline facing cuts to health and safety, jobs and wages.
A Joint Trade Union Statement has been initiated by Brian Garvey, chair of Strathclyde UCU branch, with the backing of his branch committee.
The response has been been a joy to behold for anyone who believes in workers’ unity and solidarity.
Leaders and prominent figures in virtually every union have added their names to the hundreds of shop stewards and other Union activists prepared to co-sign this statement.
Even within 48 hours, that included prominent activists in Unison, UCU, RMT, FBU, CWU, EIS, EIS-FELA, Bakers Union, BECTU, EQUITY, NUJ, GMB, USDAW, Unite, several Trades Councils, and entire union branch committees.
The combination of pressure by the collective anger and opposition of IKEA workers to their elected convenor’s dismissal, with this outburst of multi-union, multi-party solidarity, lapping the shores of Westminster, is also so being enhanced like direct campaigning on the streets.
As several people have commented on social media, do IKEA regret their victimisation now? Did they expect this upsurge of opposition to their methods? Good, old fashioned solidarity is reviving around this case, aided by modern means of communication, and the bosses would do well to take heed and reverse the attacks on workers and their workplace leader which provoked the storm.
Together we can win. Each play your part. Use and circulate the website as your source of information and encouragement in the struggle for workers’ rights.