Trade union representative at IKEA Glasgow Richie Venton is fighting for his job and workers’ conditions after being sacked by the firm for advising union members.
The IKEA bosses accuse Venton of “breaching confidentiality” by warning workers of changes to pay and absence policies before they were officially announced by the store management. Once this ‘breach’ was discovered, Richie was fired as a punitive measure.
Prior to this, Venton had been representing the interests of hundreds of IKEA co-workers through the lockdown and re-opening procedures. Protecting workers from rash decisions and ensuring proper preventative measures were taken, more than once the company had to be held to account. Ensuring those who have suffered from COVID-19 or been forced to self-isolate have their incomes protected has been a particular focus of trade union representation.
IKEA Glasgow have now moved ahead with the decision Venton warned of: changes to the absence and illness policy that will result in workers losing their wages and being put on £95-a-week in Statutory Sick Pay. The danger this policy represents is that this automatic pay cut may force people back to work before they are fully recovered from illness, potentially spreading sickness from household to household.
For a Shop Steward to be victimised for immediately advising workers over this impending change in their pay and conditions is a scandal. Indeed, Richie Venton is the first trade unionist in Scotland to be fired over disputes relating to COVID-19.
Thousands of IKEA workers have voiced their support for the campaign to get Richie reinstated in his role at IKEA and reverse the bosses’ decision to put more workers on a pauper’s allowance. The campaign launch received front-page coverage in the Daily Record, and thousands are reported to have signed the petition.
SNP MP for Glasgow South West, Chris Stephens, submitted an Early Day Motion in Westminster today calling for the reinstatement of Richie Venton, which has been signed by several SNP and Labour MPs.
The COVID-19 lockdown has been a difficult time for workers. Many had to adjust to conditions of working from their homes, whilst many more were placed on the Government’s precarious furlough scheme. As the recession that had been looming over the past period morbidly arrived, the capitalist class were and are driven to re-open as fast as possible, to try to return to the fantastic profits of before – or gobble up as much as they can before the new Depression.
To protect themselves, their families and the public health from this capitalist recklessness, workers have had to fight back. Eight months into the pandemic, unemployment and eviction threaten millions. To avoid this seemingly inevitable folly, workers will have to fight back and they will have to be organised.
Defending the freedom of trade union organisers to advise their members is a fundamental component of this struggle.
Reinstate Richie Venton!
Reinstate sick workers’ wages!
📣 Sign the petition here: https://reinstaterichieventon.com/petition/