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Chep rally

Chep rally. Photo: Martin Hall

Trade unionists and community activists in Manchester marched in solidarity with Chep strikers who remain determined to fight till they win, reports Martin Hall

A vibrant and sizeable crowd came out to support the Chep strikers on Wednesday evening at Media City in Salford. The event was a solidarity rally co-organised by Manchester People’s Assembly and Greater Manchester Association of Trades Council. Many Trades Council banners could be seen, as could support from the PCS, including the samba band, GMB, Unison and, of course, a sea of Unite flags.

We heard from a number of speakers at the beginning, including Ian McCluskey, the Unite Regional Organiser, and Ian Hodson, President of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union. Both made it clear that the strikers were at the frontline of the fightback on the attacks on the working class carried out by the bosses, and the Tory government that sits behind them and allows this to happen.

Photo: Martin Hall

The workers have been out for 19 weeks now and determination to carry on was etched on every face. They have just been offered 5% for 2021 and 4% for 2022, but they will only accept 5% for each year.

The ballot saw 95% turn out with 89% voting to carry on and reject the offer. The mandate could hardly be clearer.

The crowd then marched to the picket in Trafford Park, led by the strikers, and buoyed along by the PCS samba band. Support came from passing motorists, in particular truck drivers.

Photo: Martin Hall

At the picket, we heard from Chris Neville, Chair of Manchester People’s Assembly, who offered ongoing support from the PA, Kevin Allsop, Chair of Greater Manchester Association of Trades Council, and James Quinn, actor, poet and long-time supporter of the People’s Assembly and other campaigns.

What was impressive was how everyone agreed what a fantastic, energising event it had been. There is power in a union. Victory to the Chep workers!

Photo: Martin Hall

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