World

‘Striketober’ sees fed-up US workers fighting for better treatment

NEW YORK: Exhausted after working long hours during the coronavirus pandemic and resentful that their bosses are not sharing sometimes huge profits, tens of thousands of nurses, labourers and entertainment workers are going on strike across the United States.

Some 31,000 employees of the healthcare group in the western states of California and Oregon are also poised to strike soon.

Since last Thursday, 10,000 employees of the John Deere farm equipment company have been on strike, while 1,400 workers walked off the job at the Kellogg's cereal company on Oct 5, and more than 2,000 employees of Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, New York, began striking on Oct 1.

The sudden rash of strikes this month has even led some to coin the word "Striketober", a neologism since embraced on social media even by prominent progressive Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

During the pandemic, workers say, they often had to bear extra burden to make up for others who were staying home.

"We've sacrificed our time with our families, we missed ball games with our kids, and dinners and weddings, in order to keep boxes of cereal on the shelves," said Mr Dan Osborn, a mechanic at Kellogg's for 18 years.

"And this is how we are getting repaid, by asking us to take concessions at a time when the CEO and executives have taken increases in compensation."

Mr Osborn, the president of a local chapter of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union, said workers object to a two-tier pay system that leaves some newer employees making far less than older workers.

But they do reject a pay system that leaves some employees earning less for the same work, and to a revocation of inflation-linked pay raises - particularly at a time when prices have been surging.

"The strike can go however long it takes," Mr Osborn said. "All we have to do is hold out one day longer than the company." - AFP

WORLD