Max McGee, an Usdaw representative and branch secretary at one of Tesco’s distribution depots, is seeking reinstatement after being systematically victimised for standing up for his members. He was given a final written warning on trumped-up charges for which he successfully won a harassment grievance against his line manager. Yet the ruling was upheld regardless.
He was then fired after assisting a pregnant co-worker change a forklift battery, which led to him being electrocuted by faulty equipment. He was brought up on charges of falsifying his injury. But when Tesco was challenged with the first-aider’s report, it simply modified the charge and sacked him for exaggerating his injuries.
The past victories of Usdaw in the depot include a pushback on unsafe business practices, of which this rep played an active role in organising, alongside building a mass grievance in relation to Covid safety and performance, as well as encouraging workers to cite Section 44 to combat these attacks through the union.
The timing of Max’s sacking was not insignificant as it was during an industrial ballot on pay and conditions across a number of Tesco warehouses. Despite Max’s victimisation and sacking, the depot voted overwhelmingly for strike action. This forced Tesco to come back with an improved offer on pay and terms, which members voted to accept.
With Usdaw’s support, Max has exhausted all appeals and is preparing to go to an employment tribunal to overturn the outrageous decision to sack him. The Reinstate Max campaign is keeping up the pressure on Tesco. We can increase Max’s chances of getting some measure of justice whilst making it clear that trade union victimisation will not be tolerated.
Maurice Cooper, York Youth Fight for Jobs, former Tesco worker and Usdaw member said “The firing of Max McGee is a blatant attempt by Tesco management to suppress militant trade unionism at a time when warehouse members were balloting for strike action to keep up with rising inflation. This year Tesco have announced thousands of jobs cuts across stores. We don’t believe it is a coincidence that an Usdaw branch secretary was sacked ahead of disputes between the company and its workforce.
“We in Youth Fight for Jobs campaign fully support the demands that Tesco re-instates Max McGee and furthermore that Tesco improve the conditions of their workers (many of whom are young people such as Max) including decent pay, decent working conditions and for the protection of their rights as members of a trade union. We also call on all Tesco workers of all ages to join USDAW, it is the only way we can fight and win. Solidarity.”
- Organise a protest outside a Tesco store or depot during the 12-18 March week of action and invite Max to speak at your meeting. You can contact Max and send messages of solidarity, as well as order leaflets and posters, at email@example.com
- Can you help support the #Reinstate Max campaign by donating or getting your union branch to donate at gofundme.com/f/reinstate-max-usdaw-rep-socialist