Solid union organisation and strike action has brought real gains and forced JJB Sports onto the backfoot. Clearly aware of the dynamic that has been unleashed, however, managers have now sacked leading GMB activist and rep Chris Riley.
In the run-up to the strikes, Chris was suspended because of comments he is alleged to have made to non-unionised workers. Naturally, non-union members who allegedly said similar to GMB members have not been suspended or faced any disciplinary action. When the pay deal was agreed, management told Chris that all charges would be dropped, but they have now reneged on this in a clear attempt to break the power of the union. GMB convenor John Stewart is being threatened too.
Chris: "I called on you a short while ago to support JJB strikers in their fight for better pay and conditions and the response was overwhelming.
"I am now calling on you again to help us fight to save our union recognition at JJB. As you may have been aware at the time, I was suspended - now I've been SACKED!
"We are treating this as a direct attack on the union, to undermine us after the victory we achieved. Under the back to work agreement, it was agreed that all grievances would be dropped and I was given a personal assurance by chief executive Tom Knight that I would be back in work pending a yes vote.
"The company and 'Mr Wigan' Dave Whelan have totally reneged on this. This could not be more the opposite of their pledge to improve industrial relations!
"In addition to my SACKING, they have now filed a grievance against our convenor John Stewart with a charge that he made comments about a manager while he was representing a member. That they think they can go into the personal files of an employee and then use whatever they want to target a union official is beyond belief and goes to show the lengths they are prepared to go to to undermine the union."
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