Politically Speaking in the Wakefield Express

The next time you put a loaf in your trolley at a local Morrisons the chances are it was either been baked in store or down the road at Morrisons giant bakery at their distribution centre at Junction 41.

Most of us never set foot inside a distribution centre – we either go to the supermarket or get it delivered to our door. But without these places there wouldn’t be anything in our local store when we went in to do the weekly shop. On a tour around the centre with Corporate Services Director, Martyn Jones and members of his team, the shelves were stacked from floor to (a very high) ceiling with everything and anything you could think of from baked beans to packets of crisps.

Distribution centres are mammoth places – the Morrisons depot would easily hold 10 big supermarkets. Packing staff get around the place on special vehicles with huge forklifts. But it’s also incredibly high tech too. As one of the packers explained to me, “when I first started 14 years ago, it was all clipboards and pencils but that’s long gone now.” It’s serious business making sure that supermarkets across the north of England have all the goods they need so they have voice-recognition computer technology in their delivery trucks.

And Morrisons believes that to get the most out of their business they need to invest in their staff. In house training is a huge part of their operation – in skills staff need for their existing jobs as well as to learn new skills too. Equally, investing in the next generation is big business. So Morrisons invests a great deal in bringing in young people as apprentices and training them up in the skills their business needs for the future.

Most of the staff I spoke to had been with the company for a long time. And they spoke very positively about how the business tries to ensure parents in particular can balance their work and family life. “They do a lot to make it easier for parents to balance their different repsonsiblities,” one local parent who works there told me.

And all of this is vital that if we’re going to get the economy back on track. Unemployment is falling which is welcome news but too many of the new jobs are low wage, low skill jobs that don’t offer the training and opportunities for progression a modern economy needs to thrive in today’s competitive world.

I am clear we need more, well paid, high quality jobs being created that have good opportunities for staff to get on and progress. In a modern economy, that’s the way we will get the deficit down and ensure everyone is getting better off too.

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Posted October 24th, 2014 by Ed